The first varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge universities took place in 1827, after a challenge from Charles Wordsworth of Oxford to his friend Charles Merivale at Cambridge. He could walk the walk as well, taking seven wickets before rain meant the match ended in a draw. Further cementing his place in the pantheon of Oxbridge sport, two years later Wordsworth organised the first boat race, rowing Oxford to victory before two days later doing the same in the cricket.
Since that day, there have been 175 first-class varsity matches, with Cambridge ahead on 61 wins to Oxford’s 58, along with 56 drawn matches. Lord’s has been the home of the varsity match since its inception, although before 1851 some matches were also played at Magdalen College, Oxford, and in 2021 Teddington CC very kindly hosted us.
The varsity match was paused during the war years, however during WWII unofficial one-day matches were held. In 2001, the first-class game moved from Lord’s to alternate between The Parks and Fenner’s, and the 50-over match took over at the home of cricket, and in 2008 T20 fever finally reached Oxbridge with the first T20 varsity match. Sadly, 2020 was the last varsity match to receive first-class status, but the multi-day format is still contested annually. Currently the Men’s & Women’s T20 Varsity matches are played at Lord’s, while we are grateful to be able to host the 50-over Varsity matches at Arundel Castle.