Cambridge see off Oxford in Varsity Twenty20 Match
Victory for the tabs
Cambridge were victorious in the first of three Varsity matches, winning the Twenty20 edition by 4 wickets.
Oxford were restricted to just 140 off their allocation of overs, with the last wicket coming off the final ball of the innings. This completed a tidy bowling performance by Cambridge with the spin of Ben Wylie (3-20), Alex Blofield (2-26) and Avish Patel (1-24) tying down the Oxford batsmen.
Cambridge started their innings positively but 62-1 quickly became 80-4. Captain Alasdair Pollock and Wylie displayed excellent composure and technique to steady the ship. Their 51 run partnership ended with the score on 131, as both batsmen were dismissed cheaply within the space of three balls.
Oxford made a strong start. Captain Matt Winter and Robbie Heywood came together and added 64 runs in just 37 balls, both putting the pressure back onto the Cambridge bowlers. The half-volleys and short balls that followed were brutally dispatched as the offside was peppered with expansive drives and clinical cuts.
The game hinged on the seventh and eighth overs. Winter and Heywood had plundered the previous three overs for 42 as they took full advantage of the fielding restrictions. Winter hit seven fours, and attempted an eighth but skied it and Pollock took a dramatic running catch.
Winter’s dismissal turned the game and the following seven wickets fell for just 59 runs. Patrick Tice kept well all match and he was rewarded with two stumpings, also taking a brilliant catch off an attempted sweep. Alex Hunt’s spell (2-25) of controlled medium fast provided control as Oxford tried in vain to grab some runs at the death. Wylie took a catch off the final ball of the innings to complete a thoroughly satisfying bowling performance for Cambridge.
However the chase would not be straightforward. The pitch was slower and stickier than anticipated, and with bowling being Oxford’s stronger suit, Cambridge knew the game was far from won.
Several attempts had been made to entice people to the match with music, food, drink and the chance of more drink. One of the more dubious marketing strategies was the Kuda Crowd Catch. Should a member of the crowd catch the ball after it has been struck for six, Kuda would provide them with a “VIP Night”.
Fortunately for everyone, there were no Kuda Crowd Catches. Music was also played in between overs and after boundaries and wickets but the playlist was clichéd, short and repeated every half an hour. The experience was not too dissimilar to visiting Life, minus the smell of sweat and the sight of students trying to dance.
Instead, the crowd was treated to some crisp strokes as Blofield and Phil Hughes set about chasing down Oxford’s score. Blofield seemed especially keen to back up his century from the Cambridge-Oxford MCCU match as he got off the mark with two fours. His aggression continued until he offered a return catch to one of Oxford’s spinners, departing for 38. When Nipuna Senaratne was run out the game was left in the balance. Cambridge needed another 61 runs from 45 balls and Oxford closed in for the win.
However, Pollock’s run-a-ball 21 was the perfect foil for Wylie who hit five fours as he raced to 37. Both players were caught cheaply but it mattered not: Cambridge had drawn first blood. Afterwards Man-of-the-Match Wylie remarked “It was a great team performance. Great to get a win in the first Varsity game of the year. Hopefully we can build on this for the next two.” The two sides recommence hostilities on the 27th June for the Lord’s Varsity Match.
However Oxford women thrashed their Cambridge counterparts. Sian Kelly, on the books at Warwickshire, hit 124 off just 72 balls to inspire Oxford to 217-0 from their 20 overs. In reply, Cambridge managed just 88 runs although captain Chloe Allison played well for her 41.
Most of the pictures have been kindly provided by Nadderz Photography. The full album is available to view on Facebook here.