Varsity Hat-Trick for Blues
Jon Sanders recounts the Cambridge victory in the Varsity cricket match
by Jon Sanders
Saturday 16th June 2012, 23:22 BST
Cambridge 269-9 (50.0 overs) Oxford 252 (49.0 overs)
Light dispelled dark once again at Lord’s today, as the sky-coloured caps of Cambridge celebrated a 17-run victory over Oxford’s deep piccadilly. Having set Oxford an assured 270 to win, the Cambridge Blues, who have now completed three Lord’s Varsity victories in as many years, held nerve when it could easily have dissipated to bowl out the opponents for 252, with one over to spare. At the close, the win appeared comfortable.
It might not have been, however. The yielding of the opal morning firmament alternately to clement June sunshine and violent tempests was indicative of a game of variable fortunes. Richard Timms’ 84 should be praised, but - or perhaps because - it was the result of a persistent and sometimes wishful desire to connect bat and ball. It might have seemed at points that Timms’ aspirational swinging outside the off stump was an unnecessary hazard, but his positivist resolve was confirmed as the correct course of action both by the unsuccessful conservatism of some of the Oxford batsmen and the very successful innings of Akbar Ansari, who knocked out 63 in 38 balls. Ansari, too, showed daring, and a collection of five sixes was his reward.
Initially impressive, the shallowness of Oxford’s fielding was illuminated and exploited chiefly by Timms and Senaratne. The pair took singles well, so well that it began to look sadistic. And Oxford broke under the urgency of their running; all fell to embarrassed pieces as misfield after misfield (and four dropped catches) insulted the outfield. If there was occasionally muted frustration (on both sides - in the middle overs Cambridge couldn’t press on, and Oxford couldn’t take wickets) it was relieved by Senaratne’s craft, which was particularly effective behind square. The Cambridge innings ended with a flourish of boundaries from Akbar Ansari and an equally spectacular loss of four wickets in the final over. They were not due to any skill on the part of the bowler, Sam Agarwal (and his figures show his performance in beautified falsity), but were side-effects of a excited dash to the finish line.
The stand-out bowling performance was that of Jon Lodwick, whose 4-39 showed purpose, directness and a generally straight delivery; he rarely strayed to the leg side (and when he did was straight enough so that Agarwal could be caught behind without much shuffling on the wicketkeeper’s part) or could be left on the off. Zafar Ansari’s 1-38 from 10 overs was also commendable - and calmed a frenetic final few overs, when storm clouds gathered and Oxford’s 224-6 matched the glowing ‘224‘ of the ‘D/L Par Score’. It was supported by an excellent fielding display, which allowed only singles to fielders on the boundary, dots to fielders in the circle, and produced three run-outs. Three wickets in the last two overs were reminiscent of Cambridge’s swift demise, but the tone was different: it was of certain conclusion rather than frenzy, and the darkness which fell swiftly on Lord’s was as complete as the victory for those in the departing sky-coloured caps.