2007 – 2008
Officers: Captain Thomas Banyard, Vice-Captain: Dipender Gill, Secretary: Martin Bourne
After a 2007 season beautifully captained by Jim Fouracre, Queen’s were one of the most attractive prospects in the first division. However, a large proportion of the squad graduated at the end of last year, and although Duncan Knox was persuaded to return and roll back the years once again, the squad was looking distinctly low on numbers. Then Queen’s College made two of the finest sporting decisions it has ever done, inaugurating Thomas Banyard (former bowler but now specialist scorer) into the role of captain and admitting Blues footballer James Kelly to the College after disappointing grades and poor interview technique. After setting the football pitch aflame (the groundsman still maintains that he has never before witnessed grass spontaneously combust), Kelly set out to quieten critics who dubbed him ‘just a left boot’. Scholars maintain that his average was incalculable but it has been estimated at 97.6 (87.4 higher than the second best fresher of the squad James Thompson) and his bowling economy was less than one. Charming all with his boyish smile and in-swinging left-arm medium pace, Kelly proved to be the pick of the freshers and the further introduction of Alfred Enoch (0 wickets and 0 runs but a whole lot of hope for the future) and the return of Alex Hudson (right-arm angry and an overly aggressive number three batsman) meant Queen’s started the season with a formidable squad.
In the first round of Cuppers Jim Fouracre and Tom Banyard provided 132 of the 137 runs scored in a tense opening of Queens’ cup run. Banyard wisely turned to dependable Dipender Gill and lively Richard Bosworth to open the bowling. Gill removed both openers and left Trinity reeling on 12-2. Kelly and Hudson then polished off the middle order, Hudson’s pure anger complementing the incomprehensible accuracy of Kelly. Trinity crumbled to 83 all out and Queen’s had started its finest cup run of the century.
In the next round the number two seeds Keble joined the list of Queens’ victims. Magdalen, supplemented by several ‘graduates’, were confident of an easy victory against the little favoured Queen’s. Queen’s were put into bat and with Cherwell’s cameras flashing and the presence of Cuppers glory tangibly seeding the air with pressure, Queen’s openers Knox and Kelly contributed 49 runs before Alex Broomsgrove quick scored an exciting 29 and Banyard ended the innings with 27 from 13 balls, producing a total of 189. Opening with a seam/spin combination, Queen’s confounded the opposition by their defensive field settings, the presence of mid-off fielder Edward Boyes, and the slowness of their slow bowler Knox, who finished with 5 for 33 from his eight overs. James Kelly finished off the tail with three wickets, two of them in one maiden over.
The semi-final was against one of Oxford’s richest colleges, St John’s, whose earlier tactics of throwing money to improve their team’s chances in the competition meant that they were the favourites to win. The Queen’s side, devastated by the loss of their captain to the library, was enlivened by the return of Fouracre, who inspired Broomsgrove to find fourth gear and rush to 87 in the most impressive fashion, whilst being backed up by a beautifully-crafted 66 from opener Kelly. Queen’s batted solidly and posted 195 for the loss of only five wickets, its best batting performance of the season. St John’s made a good attempt, but Queen’s impressive performance in the field earned three run outs to help the bowling of Gill, Thompson, Hudson, Kelly and Bosworth who all shared the remaining wickets to bowl out St John’s for 172 and propel Queen’s into the Cuppers final.
In the final against Worcester, apart from an exciting 54 from Broomsgrove and a tentative 27 from last year’s blues captain, Nick Woods, the batting disappointed and the total of 154 was not enough, even after gutsy bowling performances from Strachan and Kelly.
Queen’s finished the season the second best team in Oxford, and Banyard’s decision to prioritise Cuppers has given next year’s captain a realistic chance of securing promotion for Queen’s to the first division of the league. Next year the team will miss names like Fouracre and Banyard, but it is still full of talent. Gaining promotion, and enjoying another successful Cuppers campaign, is to be expected in 2009.