By Honor Pollard
There was heartbreak and triumph at the CSC’s 2016 rounders’ tournament as Mansfield failed to hold onto the title from their 2015 victory and new champions, the Misfits, fought hard to seize glory.
The afternoon began for the teams with casual warm ups, all except ICTEM, who were still recruiting players minutes before the official start time. George King said: “we’ve definitely got 4… actually we’ve got 6 – maybe 7”. Once the unofficial transfer window ended the first games got underway.
Reigning champions Mansfield (largely from the CSC’s imaging group) were confident that they would retain the title, joking about whether or not it was worth giving the cup over to the organisers ahead of play. When asked about their secret to success, Ben Statton said Dulcie Rodrigues’ cheerleading had been key to past victories.
As the players stepped up to the mark, some were less than clear about what was expected of them. One asked what exactly a “no ball” was, and others seemed to be making their rounders’ debut. Certainly Lorenz Holzner, an MRC summer student who began work on Monday, had been drafted in by his department to play his first ever game.
With play underway, Mansfield beat ICTEM by a mere half rounder in their first game, by comparison Cell Stress beat DNA Replication a massive 8 rounders to a disappointing 3.5. Christian Speck, who leads the CSC’s DNA replication group, made some insightful mid-game observations: “You need better communication between key players,” he said to the team back stop. This was the first time that DNA Replication had fielded a team, and they were apparently getting to grips with rules and tactics as they played. Mark Ungless, director of postgraduate studies at the CSC, chose to go against the tide of wearing sports kit for the event (see pic), and had other helpful suggestions for future competitions: “I can’t believe we don’t have video playback in this day and age.”
On learning that Cell Stress had accumulated 8 rounders, Rodrigues, from Mansfield, didn’t appear in the least bit daunted, saying: “That’s not a problem, they haven’t come up against us yet.” Despite contesting nearly every call from the umpire, Admin were knocked out early by the Misfits (largely from the CSC’s Lymphocyte Development group). Much to the disappointment of Deborah Oakley, the CSC’s science communications officer, who earlier had said she wanted only “to win”, though, confusingly, had admitted: “I don’t even know the rules”. To everyone’s surprise Mark Elliott, from IT, executed a near-perfect cartwheel when one of the three teams for which he played during the afternoon won a match in the early stages.
The competition started to get serious at the semi-final stage, with Mansfield winning another match by only half a rounder. ICTEM and the Misfits faced off in a match that Elliot described as “Germany vs Italy all over again”. The match saw TWO sudden death rounds after the first round ended in a 5.5 all draw. Umpire, Carole Swan, declared: “I just can’t tell the difference between you two”. It all came down to an unorthodox finish when a coin toss put Misfits through to face Mansfield in the final.
Spectator numbers dwindled as unsuccessful teams returned to their labs and desks. The finalists were unfazed: “We are so getting that trophy, I can smell it”, Gosia Borkowska of Misfits announced to the remaining crowd. By this stage the “no ball” rules had been finalised and play went smoothly. In the end Misfits pulled it out of the bag, winning with 8.5 rounders to Mansfield’s 5.5.
While celebrating their victory, Thomas Adejumo revealed their secret behind-the-scenes influence, and why he’d been so keen to include institute director Mandy Fisher in their team photo. “She gave us all our tactics… seriously… like marking fourth base and first base…everything.”
Additional reporting by Susan Watts