Cricket: Cambridge sing the dark blues

Norman Harris reports from Lord's Oxford University 513-6 dec Cambridge University 164-3
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The Independent Online
A minor actor, Mark Wagh, played the shot of the day and made history in the 151st University match. A quick, twirling motion, the bat assuming the vertical like a flag stick held aloft, saw the ball disappear over the short leg-side boundary. That brought a fleeting image of old-time dashers like C B Fry, and that was appropriate since the stroke took the total past the Varsity match's previous record of 503 - made, also by Oxford, in 1900.

Fry was not playing in that one, having made his Dark Blue appearances just a few years previously. The biggest contribution was the 171 - another record - by R E Foster, assisted by, among others, B J T Bosanquet. The big difference, though, is that 96 years ago Oxford were not invited to bat first, as they were here.

In this context Russell Cake, the Cambridge captain, also made history. An Oxford innings extended almost to lunch (the 1900 version lasted only 20 minutes into the second day) must have come close to embarrassing this cool, intelligent young man. But there would have been frustration, too. Will Kendall, 79 overnight, was again dropped. On the first day, mis-hooking on 11, he was reprieved by two fielders calling for the catch and then colliding. On 89, he was again put down at midwicket.

There were no more chances as Kendall went to his hundred and then picked up a further 45 easy runs before the declaration. He may have been overshadowed the previous day by Andrew Ridley's 155, but he had batted just as long - four hours - and faced 50 fewer balls.

In gloomy, misty weather, Cambridge's reply began confidently. Captain Cake put himself in first, as if to atone for his sins. If anything he was playing with greater composure than anyone before him, and had just taken 17 from an over when he reached forward to Pierre Du Preez and edged to third slip.

Ed Smith and Anurag Singh also played freely against attacking fields. Cambridge's 164 by the end included 18 fours and four sixes, but they had also lost three wickets, including that of Singh - arguably the finest prospect on show here - as he went forward and was given lbw.

Cambridge's response to the record total in 1900 was to make 392, which also bettered the previous record. They will do well to make that many now, though still well within their compass should be the 1900 result - a draw.

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