On an overcast morning, Oxford sensibly asked Cardiff MCCU to bat first in the opening encounter of the day. Making good use of the conditions, Charles Morris and Charlie Ellison bowled tight lines at a good pace to restrict the opposition to 28-1 after 6 overs. Cardiff struggled against Oxford’s seamers and continued to lose wickets regularly, only beginning to get a foothold in the game when the spinners were introduced.
All-rounder Sam Agarwal’s first ball went for four, as did the first two balls of his third over, but he then had the dangerous looking Siddique stumped for a fluent 22 from 18 deliveries. A flurry of wickets then followed, as Cardiff collapsed from 87-4 to 102 all out, with the opening bowlers returning to clean up and polish their figures. Charles Morris bowled his 4 overs for just 13 runs, whilst Ellison, Corne Bodenstein and Owain Jones all picking up 2 wickets for just under 20.
In reply, Agarwal and Lloyd Sabin started strongly with an opening stand of 67 off less than 10 overs. But the wicket of Agarwal, leg before for 25 sparked a mini-collapse and Oxford soon found themselves at 77-4, and with two new batsmen at the crease. But the rate was still under control, and sensible batting, picking up singles and twos when available saw Oxford through to a win by 6 wickets.
In their second game against Cambridge, Oxford followed the same blueprint with similar success. Inserting their fierce rivals, Morris, Ellison and Ben Kemp set about running through the Tabs top order. Cambridge’s numbers 2-5 managed just 7 runs between them, including Akbar Ansari, brother of Surrey and former Cambridge MCCU cricketer Zafar, for a duck.
From 30-5, Cambridge always faced an uphill struggle to post anything near a competitive total, with only Ben Wylie offering any real resistance with a determined 21 off 26 balls. Cambridge, on what was always going to be a low-scoring pitch, were perhaps guilty of going for the big shots too often, when a more pragmatic tactic may have been to pick up the ones and twos in order to push themselves somewhere towards the 120 mark.
The Tabs batsmen fell to a variety of slower balls from Kemp in particular, before no.11 Paddy Sadler hit a length ball from Jones straight down the throat of Ellison at long-on, as Oxford cleaned up for 74.
Once again, Oxford did not have it all their own way with the bat, as the top three of Agarwal, Tom Fell and Jones all failing to make double figures. The home side’s top order failed to deal with the steepling bounce of Matt Salisbury, who claimed the first three wickets, with both Jones and Henry Edwards falling to miscued hook shots.
By the time Edwards (24) was out, however, he had brought his side to within 26 runs of their victory target, leaving Wilf Marriott and Bodenstein to finish the match off with 46 deliveries to spare, again with a winning margin of six wickets. Bodenstein in particular hit some hefty blows of the expensive off spin of Wylie, finishing with a six over long-on as he ended on 22 not out from just 10 deliveries.
Agarwal was pleased with the performance, singling out in particular Teddy Hall student Owain Jones, saying “he bowled really really well, he mixed the pace up well, he is definitely a talent to watch out for.” With 8 points from 5 games, Oxford MCCU can now hope to push on up the table, with a top four finish a distinct possibility.
PHOTO / Miles Dilworth