Midlands Scratch is Where Its At

Joe Crook

Not all of our members were down in Romford on Sunday 18th November 2012, as for the first time in student bowling history, BUTBA has entered a team in the Midland Scratch League (MSL), and the Imperial Trios tournament happened to fall on the same day as round 2 of the MSL!

For those of you that don’t know, the MSL is a travelling Fives league that has 4 divisions (Premier and 1, 2 & 3), with 8 teams in each division. Each division runs 6 match days or rounds every season. In each round all the teams bowl a single scratch match against every other team in their division (7 games of five-man in total), with 2 points awarded for beating your opposite number, and 6 points for a team win (so th
ere are 16 points available for each match!). Teams can bring as many bowlers as they like to each match day, and make substitutions between matches, but obviously only 5 can bowl in each match.

This team is called Gotham (after the lovely little village near Nottingham, it’s pronounced Goat-em, but we won’t tell anyone that!), and our Batman themed bowling shirts are the talk of the MSL (well at least in division 3!). The team captain is James Larkin (Ex-Nottingham and Ex-Notts Trent Universities), and the Vice-Captain is Tom Andrews (Sheffield), both of whom are members of the BUTBA committee.

In the first round which took place on the 30th September 2012 team Gotham won 5 out of its 7 matches garnering 80 of the 112 points available in the process, and finishing 2nd in the points table behind Northampton. Our top scorers on that occasion were Aiden Wright (Ex-Loughborough Uni, who was the highest averaging bowler in the division) with a 226.7 average (6 games), Alex Minns (Warwick University) 196.3 (6) and Danny Crook (Leeds Trinity) 195 (5). Aiden also bowled a 254 game on this occasion, which is currently the 3rd highest in the division.

The second round saw Gotham getting off to a slow start with a 784 to 752 loss in game 1 (although the team did gain 4 points). James Larkin as captain had dropped himself for game 1, but entered the fold in game two with a bang and a 247 game that got the team going, as Gotham won game two by 895 to 835 (winning 10 points). Joe Crook (Sheffield Hallam) made the winning contribution in game three with a 223 with help from Aiden (188), to give Gotham the victory by 880 to 847 (14 points). In game 4 Gotham played the blind so automatically won 16-0 with Tom Andrews’ 191 helping them to a total of 872.

After the re-oil the team played better hitting 907 (winning 14 points against opponents hitting 825) in game 5 with Aiden (224) and Joe (222) both making great contributions. In game 6 the whole team finally started bowling at the same time hitting 1045, courtesy of Joe (259), Rachael McKenzie (Leeds Metropolitan, 215), Aiden (206), James (185) and Chris Collins (Ex-Warwick, 180), annihilating their opposition’s score of 819, but only winning 14 of the available 16 points. Unfortunately in the final game Gotham took their eye off the ball somewhat and despite Aiden bowling a wonderful 247, the rest of the team didn’t turn up and only managed a paltry 858 and were well beaten by their opponents’ total of 975…although Aiden did gain us 2 points!

Aiden finished as top scorer in Team Gotham again, although this time on a more modest 197.1 (6), which puts him on 210.8 over 12, (which is still the high league average); with Joe just behind on 196.7 (6), and James 3rd on 181.3 (6). Joe’s 259 game is currently the highest in the division, and Rachael’s 215 is the highest ladies’ game.

Overall in round two Team Gotham won 5 out of 7 matches and garnered 74 points, and are currently now in 1st place in Division 3 on a points total of 154, with Greyfriars 2nd on 151, Northampton 3rd on a 146, and Tamworth 4th on 137. Only the top 2 teams get promoted so it’s shaping up to be a very interesting season of bowling.

Round 3 is due to take place on the 27th January 2013 at 1st Bowl Ilkeston, here’s hoping that Team Gotham can win more than 5 matches on that occasion and cement our position as division leaders!

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