Oxford Threaten County Side

first_imgAn extraordinary thing happened in Oxford UCCE’s game against Hampshire. Oxford declared on the final afternoon, setting Hampshire a target and giving both sides a chance of victory. Even the most assiduous watchers of Oxford cricket couldn’t remember the last time Oxford had been in a position to set up a game. Hampshire needed 291 to win, at a rate of nearly six an over. They were 141 runs shy of their total, with six wickets and just under 17 overs remaining, when a downpour put pay to any further cricket. The premature end was perhaps a greater disappointment for Oxford than the county side. With the spinners, Michael Munday and Paul McMahon, bowling in tandem, Oxford were looked genuinely threatening. The chances are that Hampshire would have blocked the proverbial out of it the moment they sensed they could lose, but there was always the hope that a combination of luck and inspiration might have seen Oxford through to a victory. Munday and McMahon bowled excellently. Munday, a leg spinner in his first year at Corpus and contracted to Somerset, bowled his first over for 12 runs. His next eight went for just 21, while at the same time he picked up three wickets. With the addition of Jamie Dalrymple – currently unavailable due to finals Oxford will field a spin bowling attack in the Varsity Match better than that of many counties. Hampshire, missing most of their big names, were furious at the lateness of the declaration. In particular, veteran spinner Shaun Udal, perhaps made unusually tetchy by the plight of West Ham, waved for Oxford to leave the field. He felt that their decision to declare on the second day to give Oxford a chance of setting a total had been snubbed by Oxford declaring 30 runs too late, to set up an extremely unlikely run-chase. Had they known it was going to be a draw, they might have batted on in their first innings. But from the Oxford perspective, it was understandable that they wanted the extra safety of making Hampshire force the pace. Oxford’s position in this game was almost entirely due to excellent innings from Joe Sayers and Ed Cowan. The latter, a former Australian under-19 batsman, made 99 off 148 balls, as Oxford sought quick runs to set up the declaration. He fell to an excellent piece of bowling from Udal and a low bounce. Looking to push the ball into the leg-side for this century, Cowan played across a quicker ball and was lbw. After a rapid start, Sayer’s first innings century was altogether more sedate. He slowed considerably as he neared his 50 and then his 100. But it was not a worse innings for lacking a shot-a-ball. On a pitch with increasingly uneven bounce and against a lively Hampshire attack, it was just the sort of innings that an opener should play. By the time he was ninth out for 122, he had shepherded the Oxford score to 273 – a total the last pair increased by eight. Hampshire were posed few problems in their first innings. McMahon bowled well, as, at times, did Tom Mees. Former Oxford blue Will Kendal made a century and Lawrence Prittipaul, a distant cousin of West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, made an unbeaten half-century. With the dismissal of Kendal, Hampshire declared, 19 runs behind Oxford’s first innings total, to try to get a good finish. It almost worked.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003last_img

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