Cricket: Hollins shifts the balance of power: University Match: All-rounder excels

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Cambridge Univ

GRAHAM SAVILLE, the Cambridge coach, is not prone to mincing his words. 'We've only got 11 players to pick from,' he said, 'and three of those deserve inverted commas.' The balance of power here yesterday bore out the accuracy of his sentiments.

At first, the mood was suitably end-of-termish. Vocal support for the protagonists, however, was some way short of negligible, doubtless to the relief of the members compelled to endure terrace-type chants the previous day when Eton and Harrow had been at play.

Not that this deterred Chris Hollins, the son of the erstwhile Chelsea and England midfield dynamo, John. A century ago the Varsity match was notable for a hundred from Charles Fry, a greedy so-and-so who combined the presidency of the Oxford Athletic Club with the captaincy of both the cricket and football XIs. Fry, of course, proceeded to become the finest sporting jack- of-all-trades England has ever produced, yet comparisons are not entirely invidious.

The diminutive Hollins starred in Oxford's record 5-0 win in last winter's Varsity football match and is understood to be on the verge of signing for Charlton. A pity. Having graduated from Durham, he arrived at Keble College with the express aim of developing his flannelled foolery and soon emerged as the Dark Blues' principal all- rounder with his inventive batting and penetrative off- breaks.

Watched approvingly by his father, the former held sway yesterday. Granted, some of his shots did owe more to Laver than Lara, yet the exuberant energy Hollins brought to bear was highly invigorating. In reaching his maiden first-class century he faced 10 more deliveries than Chinmay Gupte, his partner in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 231, had negotiated while acquiring the first half of a more leisurely hundred.

Each refreshed parts unknown to their captain, Richard Montgomerie, who failed to register so much as one boundary during his 129-ball tenancy. Needless to say, Montgomerie is the one intending to take this lark up as a profession.

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