Credit: Ben Marsh / CC
Armed with nothing but some cans of Stella and a ridiculous amount of food, 482Days travelled down to the capital on Saturday for the One-Day Varsity between Oxford University and The Other Place.
Lord’s is always such a magnificent experience, it’s the second time I’ve been there and there really is nothing like it all. The two men’s teams from Universities meet in three separate forms of the game a four day first class match, a t20 slogfest and a 50 over one day game, always held at neutral ground at the home of cricket.
Those of you who haven’t been before may not know that Lords is actually comprised of two grounds, the main stadium which hosts several test matches and Middlesex, however there is also the Nursery Ground as part of the complex, and both matches were in full use as the Women’s One Day Varsity was held on the same day at the same time, so you could pop along to both games across the day.
The men’s game was a slow burner and built into an excellent days cricket. Oxford struggled at first making just 21 off the first 10 overs after some economical and solid bowling from openers Alasdair Pollock and Ruari Crichard but the Dark Blues would go on to make 53 from the opening partnership.
At 117/6 after 35 overs, Oxford were on the brink of setting a very low target indeed, but a superb half century from wicketkeeper Sam Westaway who looked very solid at the crease for the entire innings, out only five balls from the end trying to accelerate Oxford past the 200 mark. For the Light Blues, Avish Patel had bowling figures of 10-1-22-3 and looked menacing to play for his entire time, easily the best of their bowlers.
Returning to defend a target of 203 the Dark Blues were thrilled to get a early wicket in just the second ball of the innings when Jamie Abbott edged behind to keeper Westaway. While Oxford had issues scoring early in the innings, the Light Blues had no such trouble running at five or six an over from Phil Hughes and Nipuna Senaratne.
Six balls, as we all know is an eternity in cricket in the entire face of the game changed at the end of the 12th over, when Hughes took one step to many down the wicket and Westaway executed a brilliant stumping. Six balls later Owain Jones had Senaratne leg before wicket to make 65/1 turn into 65/3.
While the Light Blues continued to ship wickets, you still fancied them as favourites for the match all the way until their skipper Pollock went for one shot too many to hole out which exposed their tail and despite a 10th wicket partnership of 20, it was too little too late and Oxford won the Varsity Match by 43 runs. It was a fantastic days entertainment, and you feel that the Light Blues would be kicking themselves from throwing away they game where at one point they had little more than a hundred to win, seven wickets in hand and with 33 overs left to bat, they had all the time in the world to get it done in.
Great credit must go to the Dark Blues attacking bowling and field placements, after about the 10th over I cannot recall seeing more than two fielders outside the circle at anytime. Westway had a superb game with a 50, five catches and a stumping and was easily the player of the game.
Over on the Nursery Ground, it was higher scoring, but a one sided affair that saw Oxford cruise to their fourth ladies Varisty title in a row. Sadly we didn’t get to see a lot of it, but with the exception of an exciting hour or so, it was the Dark Blues that dominated the entire match. Oxford took the positive approach early on scoring 16 off the first over but the performance of the day went to American Sarah Attrill who scored a magnificent 141 and carried her bat throughout the entire innings to help post an imposing target of 288/7 that looked like it was going to be difficult to chase down.
The Light Blues however started positively and weren’t going to roll over on this one. Helped by 65 from Frankie Barber they pushed on to 136/0 after 31 overs, where they found themselves behind the chase, but still in with a reasonable shout. Similar to the Men’s game where two quick wickets turned the tie, it was in even more dramatic fashion as Helen Bexendale took two in two balls to make it 157/3. More important than taking wickets, was the slowing of the Light Blues run rate, which ground to a halt and saw Oxford cruise to victory by 105 runs.
Overall, if you haven’t see much University Cricket, I’d solidly recommend it, the Website is at http://www.cricketintheparks.org.uk. We’d like to wish the Authentics (the Men’s B team) the best of luck in their three day varsity which started on Monday at the Parks, and to the Men’s Blues who are currently playing at Fenners in the Men’s A Varsity.