This year marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Corpus Christi College by Bishop Richard Foxe, and will now mark another watershed moment for the Merton Street College.
For the first time in five years, Corpus Christi College have beaten another college’s 1st XI cricket team. The unfortunate victims: Magdalen.
The resilient team had endured five years since the last league victory for CCCCC, a run that started after a six-man Lincoln side didn’t quite hold on against former captain Sean Ravenhall’s 2012 vintage.
Since then, many captains have been and gone, but the sub-par quality of cricket found on the Corpus grounds on Abingdon Road has remained constant. However, on a sunny day in the east of Oxford this five-year duck was broken in emphatic fashion.
With Corpus put in to bowl by the Magdalen skipper, it took just three overs for the first Magdalen wicket to fall, as Max Phillips swung one from leg onto the toes of their opening batsmen. Former Corpus skipper Arthur Hussey came into the attack and was seemingly determined to not let the new captain break from their losing tradition, kicking off his spell with three wides a long way down the off side. Eventually, he managed a wicket with a dreadful full toss that he managed to hold on to as it was lofted back to him.
Kavi Amin came into the attack and took two very good wickets, turning the ball through bat and pad, before getting smacked around at the end of his spell and leaving the field. His replacement, Shiv Bhardwaj, had arrived too late to come into the attack so Woodcock was left with a conundrum as to who would bowl the ‘filler’ overs at the other end.
The nod was given to Miles Partridge, who initiated proceedings with two wides and a full toss that was deservedly clapped for six. However, ever-persistent, Partridge plodded on and was rewarded with a wicket despite the efforts of fielders Hugo Shipsey and Will Hamilton-Box. Some tight overs at the end left Magdalen 100 for seven off their allocated 25 overs, a target which was bigger than ones that had been bottled before.
After a very splendid tea, Partridge and Amin went out to open, and didn’t look back: the opening pair made the whole thing appear very easy indeed. Despite a nervy moment on 33, Partridge charged on to 57*, winning the game in style with a sweetly-struck cover drive that raced over the boundary for four.
With that one collision of willow and leather, and just 8.5 overs into the run chase, Corpus had won their first proper game in five long laborious years.
College cricket is a strange beast. In the vital hours of an ever-packed Trinity Term, 22 athletes turn out every week to play fixtures of a highly questionable quality. Every year it plods blindly on with teams able to find at least a handful of positive results even when struggling in their respective division.
Yet for a generation of Corpus players, there has been no ‘W’ in the results column of a match they have played in, no justifiable reason to go to the pub afterwards, and no real chance of getting to pat each other on the back as they walk back to the pavilion past a glowing scoreboard.
Finally, the long suffering troops of CCCCC got to taste an aspect of the game they had never encountered before, and one that they may possibly never experience again.
Although it may not necessarily be the taking part that drags eleven Corpuscles out of college every week, five long years play testament to the fact that there absolutely has to be something other than winning that matters; because if there weren’t, they really would have given this up a long, long time ago.