Thanks to truly top–class performances from Tom Hicks and Huw Jones Oxford crushed a good St. Mary’s side that ran them close last year. The pitch was low and slow but St. Mary’s got off the mark well in the first two overs, driving sweetly and clipping off the pads solidly. Alan Gofton and Toby Sharpe tidied up their act and the runs soon dried up: when the fielding restrictions were lifted, they were only on 33, barely over two an over. Then Tom Hicks reeled off his 10 overs unchanged, first taking an energetic caught and bowled off a mistimed slog-sweep, later a fanatastic hard-hit low chance back to him. Giving the batsmen nothing hittable, he did not conceed a boundary, and finished with 10–2–17–3 after dismissing their number 5 for 0 lbw. The slow scoring of St. Mary’s was partially due to their chunky opener James Watson, who typified all that could go wrong with limited overs cricket. He did not hit out during the first fifteen, instead choosing to play himself in, then did not accelerate the scoring, did not scamper cheeky singles, but simply waited for his own runs to come and be given to him. This abhorrent self-aggrandisement led Watson to 56 and he did not look like he was even playing for his team, with more inward reflection than happy celebration when getting to his fifty. Upon his fall the lower order enlivened matters, running well between the wickets and taking the OUCCE bowlers on. The graceful reverse sweep by Surrey–contracted Tim Murtagh off ex-colleague Joe Porter typified this rally and left Oxford 155 to win. St. Mary’s openers Robbie Joseph, a Kent 2nds player, and Murtagh were hostile and aggressive and it was a very good contest against Joe Sayers and Huw Jones. There were runs to be had from the wicket though, and when Jones lofted Murtagh over extra cover in the eighth over, the tension was released. The pair banished the memories of last week’s failed century stand with an enjoyable 120 partnership, as Sayers hit the ball crisply square of the wicket and Jones was good in the “v” between extra cover and midwicket. The other St. Mary’s bowlers lacked penetration, struggled for a rhythm and were not consistent enough to trouble the dark blues. Dalrymple finished matters with 20 of 21 balls while there was more than a hour to play. Some of the early season promise is now coming through, which can only be a good thing going into the county match, in 3rd week against Gloucestershire, the last first–class game before the 4-day Varsity match scheduled for the end of June.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003