Cricket: Gallian oversees Oxford advance

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Oxford Univ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .308-4

Cambridge Univ

IF THE Australian press can describe Martin McCague as a rat, one shudders to think what manner of billet-doux they will send Jason Gallian should he ever win selection for England. That this is a distinct possibility was emphasised by the Oxford captain's assertive century here yesterday, although he will doubtless be the first to admit that most of the opposition attack would be delighted to be called 'pie throwers'.

Unlike McCague, Gallian was not even born in the United Kingdom. Hailing from Sydney, he led the Australian Young Cricketers against their English counterparts in 1989, but elected to seek a residential qualification when he went to Keble College in 1991.

Next summer Gallian will be available for Lancashire, who will presumably break out the bunting. In 1992 he totted up 1,015 runs at an average of 145 for their second XI, at one stage reeling off a hundred in each innings in three successive matches. His exit yesterday, caught on the temptingly short midwicket boundary, suggested a man tiring of playing against boys.

For all its anachronistic overtones, and their are plenty of those, there is something vaguely reassuring about the Varsity match, now in its 148th instalment. Play begins at 11.30, each session lasts precisely two hours and stumps are drawn at 6.30 sharp. Helmets are rare - an accurate reflection of undergraduate pace bowling - and the fielding is scruffy at best. No wonder Graham Gooch looked willing to disown his 100th century after reaching the landmark at Fenner's.

The sense of occasion has gone, irretrievably so. 'Dark and light blue ribbon swathed the grandstand boxes,' RG Stainton wrote in 1933, 'and a decorative perambulation took place round the square during the lunch interval.'

A year later 'only' 24,000 spectators turned up, according to contemporary reports, which blamed a clash with the Old Trafford Test. 'Tiger' Pataudi has turned up this year and recalls 7,000 being present when he led Oxford in 1963. Last season estimates for the second day varied between 37 and 47.

Encouraged by some decent weather - a rare intruder in recent times - the gallery soared into three figures. Yet even though Oxford are unbeaten this term and have every reason to expect their first win since 1984, Isis declined to send a reporter. So why should anyone else bother? With Wisden taking the blasphemous step of ditching its annual list of Blues this year even the establishment is losing interest.

(Cambridge University won toss)

OXFORD UNIVERSITY - First Innings

R R Montgomerie run out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

* J E R Gallian c Cake b Whittall . . . . . . . . . . .115

G I MacMillan c Cake b Whittall. . . . . . . . . . . . .63

G B T Lovell not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80

C L Keey b Pearson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33

C M Gupte not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Extras. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Total (for 4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

Fall: 1-3 2-170 3-186 4-276.

To bat: C W J Lyons, R Yeabsley, M Jeh, R H MacDonald, P Trimby.

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY: * J P Crawley, G W Jones, M E D Jarrett, R Cake, G M Charlesworth, J P Carroll, J P Arscott, N J Haste, C M Pitcher, R M Pearson, A R Whittall.

Umpires: G I Burgess and G Sharp.

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