Stalemate at Oxford, triumph at Lord’s: this summer’s cricket Varsity
New cricket captain reviews a strong season for the Light Blues
by Paddy Sadler
Tuesday 2nd October 2012, 14:00 BST
With as many as ten of the thirteen cricketers who won Blues in 2012 available for the Varsity matches in 2013, new captain Paddy Sadler will have high hopes that the undoubted talent that remains, along with some new faces, can continue the recent success.
2012 can be looked back on as another summer of success for Cambridge University Cricket Club. The Light Blues won the showpiece one-day Lord’s Varsity for the third year in succession, and secured a draw in the 4-day match away at the Parks.
Sadler captained Scotland to an 11th-place finish at the Under-19 World Cup, among further individual success from Zafar Ansari – who continued to build his reputation on the county circuit – and newly appointed Vice-Captain Paul Best – who featured heavily in limited-overs cricket for Warwickshire.
Cambridge MCCU (the Marylebone Cricket Club-funded side in partnership with ARU, featuring regular Blues Best, the Ansari brothers, Sadler and Tom Elliott) had another successful year, beating Durham in the final to retain the BUCS Premier League crown. Cambridge also remained unbeaten MCCU 2-day champions, becoming the first side to beat Cardiff or Durham in the competition since 2009.
Saturday 16th June, Lord’s
RESULT: Cambridge win by 17 overs
Cambridge 269 all out
(Timms 84, A Ansari 63, Senaratne 57, Z Ansari 37)
Oxford 252 all out
Cambridge captain Richard Timms, ably supported by Nipuna Senaratne, batted superbly to put his side in a very strong position. The Ansari brothers, Akbar and Zafar, added impetus to the innings and took full advantage of the powerplay. Cambridge set Oxford a very challenging 270 for victory – a similar score to that which they defended at Lord’s in 2011.
Oxford started well before Jon Lodwick, a former Dark Blue, made the all important breakthrough. When captain Ben Williams was trapped LBW by Best in the 25th over, the Light Blues were well on top. Dan Pascoe launched a counter-attack with a hard-hitting 67 and for a while the momentum was with Oxford. However, Z. Ansari, Lodwick, and Sadler were able to hold their nerve and help bowl Cambridge to victory.
Three run outs were typical of a fantastic Cambridge performance in the field, and the enthusiastic student contingent in the Grandstand travelled home happy.
24th-27th June, The Parks, Oxford
Oxford 280 all out
(Jones 83, Lodwick 4-55, Probert 3-68)
(Williams 70, Jones 54*, Lodwick 3-44)
(Timms 52, Elliott 44, Agarwal 3-46, Pascoe 3-53)
The start of a first-class Varsity match was delayed by half a day because of rain, and the time lost – combined with a very slow wicket at the Parks – made achieving a positive result difficult for either side. Cambridge, having chosen to bowl, were disciplined with the ball and the run rate was never able to get above two and a half runs per over.
After two early wickets on day two, the bowling with the second new ball was good. But riding their luck, and aided by a couple of Light Blue fielding errors, Oxford battled to 280 before Lodwick took the final wicket. Timms was once again in superb form, along with Elliott, he batted Cambridge into a strong position, before both were dismissed approaching the close.
Wickets fell at regular intervals on the third morning: every time a partnership threatened to develop, Oxford seemed to strike. Nobody was able to convert a start into a more substantial score and Cambridge were eventually bowled out for 267. A hostile spell from Lodwick, and the standard Varsity pressure applied by Best, left Oxford three down at the close, and Cambridge entering the fourth day believing victory was possible.
Williams and Sharma batted through the entire morning session on day four, and by lunchtime a draw was the most likely result. Although Cambridge stuck to their task through the afternoon, the match ended in stalemate.