© 2019 – Nicolas Rackow for OUCC
OUCC were very fortunate to be able to play varsity matches in September, after the regular season was wiped out by coronavirus. The squad warmed up with 2 inter squad games in August, as well as a notable victory against a very strong Teddington side.
The first varsity match was the Blues One Day match, held at the Parks, where OUCC won the toss and batted first. The going was tough initially on a fresh wicket with a 10:30 start, but George Hargrave picked up from where he left off in varsity matches last year, making a superb run-a-ball 100 to ensure we posted a good total. He combined in a match-winning partnership with Tom Gnodde, whose 74 off only 50 balls elevated OUCC to a first innings score of 250.
In response, Cambridge’s run chase got off to a poor start, as a run out, two early wickets from Pettman and tight bowling from Searle caused Cambridge to fall to 15-3. The light blues staged a small recovery, but tight bowling from the spinners Foster, Von Behr and Curtis, and a potent spell from first change seamer Fisher ensured that OUCC took regular wickets. In the end, Cambridge were bowled out for 170, with the wickets shared around.
The next day, the team travelled up to Cambridge, and on Thursday, were back on the pitch in the 4-day first class game, set to be the 175th and final first-class varsity match. Cambridge won the toss and chose to bat, a plan which initially seemed to have backfired as they were reduced to 200-7, with the wickets shared between Pettman, Fisher, Von Behr, and Livingstone. Cambridge then put together a crucial 8th wicket partnership, bringing the score up to 280 before it was ended by Searle at the close of day 1. Livingstone and Fisher then finished off the innings at the start of day 2, with Cambridge ending up on 307.
OUCC’s response never really got going, as the team slumped to 42-4 against the new ball. Tom Gnodde continued his good form, making 45 crucial runs to give OUCC a chance of rebuilding, but unfortunately the lower order failed to wag, as the Blues were bundled out for 129. The less said, the better…
However, OUCC fought valiantly in response, with early wickets from the seamers causing Cambridge to fall to 84-5 at the close of day 2. Hopes were high on the morning of day 3, but Cambridge managed to weather the early storm, and an excellent 100 from their number 4 coupled with some lower order resistance meant that Cambridge were able to put together a score of 257, leaving OUCC an imposing 435 to win.
Batting last, OUCC again lost early wickets to the new ball, falling to 41-4. Thankfully, the team then showed stubborn resistance, as both Gnodde and Von Behr made starts, before stubborn batting from Searle and Pettman held the Cambridge attack at bay, ensuring that the game was taken into the final day. Freddie Foster then batted with great fluency, making his maiden first class 50 with a number of crunching drives, remaining unbeaten when the final OUCC wicket was taken on the morning of the fourth day.
It was a disappointing 4 days for the OUCC side in Cambridge, although the team can take great heart from their convincing victory in the One Day game, and the way everyone stuck together and fought hard against the odds at Fenners. The bowlers ran in hard all game, and the batsman showed stubborn defiance in the last innings. Most of all, it was brilliant to be able to play varsity matches at all, and thanks must go to all those who helped out in the organisation on both sides. Everyone playing felt very fortunate to have been a part of the last first-class varsity match for the foreseeable future. We were sorry that our followers were not able to come and watch at the 4-day game, but the club is in good shape, with only 4 members of the team graduating this year. The future is bright for OUCC, and we look forward to returning to the Parks in full force next year.