While it has been an exceptionally busy term of sport, riddled with inconsistent weather, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about any cricket currently being played in Oxford. However, as the England team have struggled in recent months, cricket fans around the University should focus their attention on the men and women of OUCC, by whom lots of top-notch cricket is being played.
OUWCC started their season early, during the purple patch of weather that was 0th Week. The Dark Blues faced an early season dress rehearsal for the varsity matches that await the team at the end of term in their first BUCS league match of the season, coincidentally against Cambridge.
Cambridge won the toss and elected to take to the field, whether this choice was due to their confidence in their bowling attack, their preference to have a fixed total to chase down or just to make the game last the full afternoon, I’m not sure.
Regardless, Oxford got out to a strong start with a commanding first wicket partnership between Ellie Bath and Sian Kelly, who between them racked up 93 runs before the first wicket fell in the 16th over. Women’s Blues captain Eleanor Ingram came in at number 3 and chalked up a solid 55*, as she helped to maintain OUWCC’s dominant start by combining with Bath, who finished 82*, to help the Dark Blues put up a seemingly unassailable 206-1 after their allotted 30 overs.
After a strong batting performance from Oxford, it seemed that Cambridge knew they would not be able to go toe-to-toe with their opposition. Instead, the Tabs shut up shop and paid the price for it in their innings. The Light Blues were bowled out for a meagre total of 40 runs from 28 overs, as they were wholly dismantled by Oxford’s supreme attack. Alice Quayle took 2 for 12 runs and freshers Alycia Jewes (2 for 8), Sarah Attrill (1 for 2 from 4 overs), and Immy Brown (1 for 6 from 5) also contributed enormously to limiting the Tabs’ total as the Dark Blues made it back home in time for dinner following a decisive victory by 146 runs.
Word of this dominance clearly spread like wildfire around their BUCS division as Nottingham Trent withdrew from BUCS entirely (reports that sheer terror of OUWCC forced a retreat are, as yet, unsubstantiated), and Leicester also forfeited their fixture.
One team that did make good on their promise to take on the Dark Blues was the MCC who came to Oxford for their annual friendly fixture in University Parks. Given the nature of the MCC squad, they were always going to bring their A-game.
This became apparent as their top order put together some strong innings as they raced out to a fast start. Sarah Attrill, however, threw a spanner in the works as she put together an incisive spell of bowling, taking two wickets in two balls, leaving her on a hat-trick ball, which remained unconverted.
But, just as in last year’s fixture, by the end of their 50 overs, the MCC had amassed a very solid score of 268 for 7. Unfortunately, Oxford struggled in their run chase and ultimately fell to a painful defeat.
After a brief sojourn of two weeks without a game, the Blues then faced Banbury CC in another development friendly.
Again though, the female cricketers seemed to come unstuck, suffering a heart breaking four wicket loss in the final over of the match to condemn them to defeat.
Looking to June however, there is lots to get excited about in the world of OUWCC, as a whole host of bragging rights are up for grabs. On 20th June, they take on the Town in the traditional Town vs Gown showdown. In what looks set to be an impassioned occasion, Oxford’s strength in depth will serve them well.
However, the real showpiece events are the Twenty20 varsity at the Fenners Ground in Cambridge on 12th June (Thursday of 7th) and the One Day varsity at Lord’s on 27th June (Saturday of 9th). Both the men’s and women’s team are returning victors in these contests, looking to repeat their domination from last year.
And if the Dark Blues can replicate their early season form, and the form of previous seasons, then the Tabs should be quaking in their Light Blue boots.