The first Varsity Match of the season, the Twenty20 fixture, was played in Cambridge and threatened to be disrupted by heavy rain in the week leading up to the event. Having been sent in to bat on a rather fresh-looking pitch the Oxford side got off to a good start through some fine positive batting from Sam Agarwal. Unfortunately, as wickets started to fall, the Oxford innings seemed to lose its way, never really being able to regain any momentum, eventually struggling its way through to 107 all out; Sam Agarwal, the only batsman managing to threaten the Cambridge attack, finishing on 52.
What seemed to be a well-below par score turned out to be somewhat of a challenge for Cambridge. Tight bowling and excellent fielding translated into wickets falling at regular intervals and the run rate being kept under check for most of the innings, Alex Scott in particular shining with two important wickets at crucial times. However, a steady ninth wicket partnership enabled Cambridge to pass the Oxford score in the penultimate over of the match.
After defeat in the Twenty20 Oxford went into the one day match with everything to play for, and the opportunity to walk out into the middle at Lords. The Oxford skipper Raj Sharma was forced to rue his luck once again as he lost the toss and was asked to bowl on a glorious sunny day at the home of cricket. Some tight bowling from the openers, Sharma and Higham, followed by Agarwal and Lodwick, meant the Cambridge run rate never really peaked over the 4 r.p.o rate for the first 30 overs. However, a well executed decision to take the power play propelled the Cambridge innings with two of the opposition’s county batsmen, in particular, playing well constructed innings. A competitive but very gettable score of 264 was made by Cambridge.
In reply, the Oxford innings did not get off to a good start; losing a wicket in the first over. Similarly to the Twenty20 match the Oxford innings was not able to gain any momentum and with wickets falling and the run rate always climbing, the dark blues were always fighting from behind. Some good knocks from Ben Williams (49) and Dan Pascoe (58*) provided some hope but ultimately the task was too great with the team being bowled out for 212 in the 49th over.
Four Day Match
The climax of the season was the four day varsity match against Cambridge, when Cambridge played host to a recovering Oxford side who had managed to beat an MCC side in their last game at University Parks. Cambridge won the toss and chose to bat, but some good bowling restricted the them to 133-6 before the innings slipped away from the Dark Blues. Cambridge eventually reached 280; Sharma finishing with 4-50. In reply, a familiar sight in the Varsity Matches this year seemed to propagate, as Oxford were poorly bowled out for 138. After their poor first innings Oxford seemed to prefer the feeling of ball rather than wood in hand and managed to reduce the Tabs to 58-5 by the end of the second day’s play. Cambridge were eventually bowled out for 193, setting Oxford a challenging but achievable 336 for victory; Pascoe and Higham both finishing with three wickets.
The scene was set for a fairytale ending to the summer, but despite a fighting partnership from Westaway and Sharma the chase proved too difficult; The Dark Blues ended up making 279, Sharma playing a magnificent Captain’s knock with 114 and Westaway remained unbeaten on 63. The result capped a disappointing Varsity series, and the Blues must lick their wounds before renewing hostilities with the old enemy next year.