Home v Unicorns – won by 197 runs

Thanks to Matt for his match report ;

Birmingham Unicorns 16 th June 2024

With June being Pride month, what better time to play our great friends and allies from Birmingham Unicorns, this year in the beautiful Broxbourne sunshine. Skipper Adam won the toss and decided to bat, with a strong batting line up, eager to make their mark.
Many a Unicorn were very fearful of the opening pair of Matt and Michael, worried of what potential opening stand that could happen. They didn’t need to worry at all as Lachlan opened the bowling to Matt, who dismissed him in the previous year’s game. First ball saw a perfectly placed yorker and Matt was back to the benches with a diamond duck! A super start for the Unicorns. Mendis was the next batter in and quickly looked to stamp his mark on
the game with a couple of early boundaries and some smart quick singles. Lachlan was holding his end up rather well, with Michael and Mendis being more attacking of James and
Amy from the other end as the run rate saw a heathy climb and seven an over from the first10.
Mendis continued his free flowing shots, with runs coming in either boundaries or the boundary fielders as the inner ring were beginning to see a lot less of the ball. Not even Sam’s ever-tempting off breaks would break the partnership and Mendis eased his way to fifty.

However, Unicorns did have plenty of bowling clout still to unleash on Graces and they introduced Abdul into the attack who began to dry up the boundary count, forcing the batters into some 22-yard interval sprint training, a challenge gladly accepted by Michael in particular The bowling change would find the breakthrough, finally bringing the wicket of Mendis for 75 from just 60 balls. Leo would be the next batter, faced with the unenviable task of keeping up with the Duracell bunny, powered by bananas and gels at the other end. Michael himself had now ticked past the half-century and was surely eyeing up three figures and was determined to take any advantage of a deep fielder or minor misfield, as twos were becoming much more regular.

Such was the hustle in the running, that calls of one were sparce, with Michael looking immediately for two on most occasions, proving ‘encouragement’ to Leo, with one call of two being quickly responded with “Yes, I’m coming, stop!”. It was proving very good on the scoreboard as a fifty partnership came inside eight overs. Not even the undercover Graces player, John, could find the wicket as Michael’s razor sharp running, combined with Leo’s swash buckling straight hits raced the scored past 200.

The pushing of running then proved entirely worthwhile as Michael earned his second career Graces ton, becoming the fifth Graces centurion of 2024, retiring that over for a well deserved 102 from just 79 balls – 62 of them being ran between the wickets! Adam then joined Leo, but would see the dreaded finger of doom, trying to flick Dean into the legside, LBW for 1. Mark would be looking to repeat another successful partnership with Leo and he
found the legside boundary very successfully, hitting three consecutive boundaries at one point. Leo would continue his good form by reaching his own fifty before allowing Jonners to have a hit. He was quickly joined by Dom as Mark would try one hit too many, bowled by Dean for a quickfire 19. Dom and Jonners saw the innings through, Dom playing a superb inside out lofted off drive for four in the final over to end the Graces innings at 281/4.

Kash would lead the Graces defence, with Harry and Grunicorns’ own Amy opening for the visitors. Kash got Graces on the board early with a good full and straight delivery to dismiss Harry, bringing the next Grunicorn, Lachlan, to join Amy. The pair would play some lovely off drives, including down the ground off Mendis, keeping Unicorns with the required rate early on. Amy then tucked into a couple of loose short balls from Kash as a quick fifty partnership loomed. However, it would be one short ball too many as having hit two consecutive pulls for four, the third would be hit firmly to square leg, only to fall superbly into the hands of Brighton’s own Jonners to end what was becoming a valuable partnership for the ‘Corns.
Hattie was next in at number 4 and Graces turned to the slower options. Mark looked threatening immediately and soon struck, challenging Lachlan’s sweep a couple of times before he eventually dragged his foot too far forward and Adam needed no second invitation to whip the bails off. An unfortunate mix up in calling would see Adbul ran out without facing ball, bringing in skipper Sam.

With partner Kristian avidly following the game with his own photo and videography, he would have been delighted to see Sam off the mark with a delightful off drive against the newly introduced Ratan. But Ratan was keen to win the battle as the next big shot from Sam fell safely into the hands of Freddie at mid on as the Unicorns were beginning to falter at
70/5. However, Hattie was becoming a tough wicket to claim as her stoic defence kept her at the crease for a long time. It forced Mark into introducing his variations, which set Hattie up very cleverly, being able to trap her LBW to give him a second wicket.

Freddie was holding the other end up very economically, which created a bit of pressure, causing Mark to be a greater threat. It proved dividends as Dean would chip a ball straight up and safely into Michael’s gloves, quickly followed by Simon attempting to pull a big spinning delivery which clattered the stumps. Mark now had four! Who would be the batter to deny the five? John Wilkes. With fielders eager to assist Mark in his quest for five, John’s first ball was edged towards slip, only for Leo to leap like a salmon to grab the ball one-
handed stretched out in front of him and brought about rapturous celebrations for Mark’s second five-wicket haul of the season. The final Unicorns pair (or trio with Dean being James’s runner) would survive briefly until Adam brought himself on to end the proceedings, getting Lexi bowled to give Graces a 197 run victory, although the margin of victory didn’t tell the full story of how good a fight Unicorns put up multiple times throughout the day.
A wonderful day to celebrate LGBTQ+ cricket and all are welcome for the return visit to
Brum in 2025.

Matt x