As regular as fresher lawyers feeling smug about finishing their Mods, and the Union realizing that they’ve used up all their good ideas for speakers, Trinity brings with it the cricket season, and both the University and College teams are eager to get going.
Prior to the start of the County season, much was made of the growing tendency of some clubs to focus their pre-season in the wintery conditions of our own island, with the TV cameras showing us a multitude of shivering Middlesex players wrapped in wool as they pelted down an outdoor net that had become frozen by the cold.
No such hardship for the Blues however, who enjoyed a pre-season tour to South Africa where they faced some tough opposition, including several first-class players, but still managed to emerge with a credible three victories from their nine matches. Despite the six losses, Secretary James Hooper has no doubts about the benefits reaped from the two-week trip.
‘The tour to South Africa was brilliant. To achieve three victories, considering who we were playing, was not a bad haul. The T20s at Newlands, an exceptional place to play, and then the game at the Oppenheimer estate, a traditional warm up game for touring sides with wonderful facilities, were particular highlights.’
One of those to come out of South Africa with his reputation enhanced was captain Samridh Agarwal, who followed up his 77 in the victory against the University of Witswatersrand with a hugely impressive display in the MCCU’s three-day game against County Champions Warwickshire. Agarwal’s first-innings century was accompanied by three wickets taken with his patient off-spin, including Bears’captain Jim Troughton and former England wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.
Another to feature against Warwickshire was all-rounder Owain Jones, player of the tour in South Africa and a key individual in the Blues’ side. After his impressive displays against the formidable South African opposition, Hooper expects big things from Jones this season: ‘a lot will be expected from Owain this summer with both bat and ball. In the toughest games on tour he scored runs, and bowled with control.’
As always, the three Varsity matches will provide the season’s highlights. Oxford will be hoping to emulate the success of last year’s T20 game, which they won in the final over of the match, while in the 50-over match Agarwal will be hoping to break his Lord’s duck by making it fourth time lucky and leading his side to victory at the Home of Cricket.
OUCC would like to thank the sponsors who made the tour to South Africa possible: the Vice Chancellor, The Beecroft Trust, the manager William Frewen, the Harlequins, the Agarwals, the Gordons and finally Western Province Cricket.