Cricket: Oxford's rhythm incites the blues

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Oxford Univ 400-6 dec and 100-1

Cambridge Univ 241 and 255

Oxford Univ win by 9 wickets

WHEN J T Morgan was congratulated on an enterprising declaration in the 1930 Varsity Match, the Cambridge captain explained in all due modesty that, in his view, it would have been 'indecent to go on batting'. As his successor slithered towards defeat here yesterday, the philosophy of the specialist batsmen appeared not dissimilar. Oxford had the rhythm, their victims a severe dose of the blues.

'Where there's Crawley there's hope' was undoubtedly Cambridge's motto. Once again, though, the captain failed to translate authority into substance, reaching 49 of 69 balls with half a dozen pedigree fours before being trapped in front by Jason Gallian as he shuffled to leg. From then on, Oxford's first win here since 1984 was purely a matter of time.

Russell Cake crumbled two balls later, contentiously caught behind. A century-maker against the Australians last week, the mischievous conclusion must be that the bowlers currently wearing the Dark Blue cap constitute a more potent force than those sporting the baggy green one.

Michael Jarrett and Graham Charlesworth held the fort for a spell before the latter was bowled driving at a full-length delivery from Robert MacDonald. The initial post-lunch exchanges then saw Cambridge subside into what their former captain Herbert Jenner would unquestionably have described as a 'blue funk', shedding three wickets in two overs to a variety of hesitant strokes.

It was Jenner who, in 1827, accepted the gauntlet thrown down by Charles Wordsworth, thus bringing this fixture into existence. Undone by Wordsworth's underarm off-breaks, Cambridge slumped for 92 on that occasion; this time, at least, the tail wagged productively.

'Hurry up, ' cajoled a lonely voice from the perimeter, 'I want to catch Wimbledon'. Messrs nine, ten, and jack, however, were having none of it. Before being caught at slip off the lively Michael Jeh - whose action, contrary to any unintended implication in these columns yesterday, is anything but suspect - and Richard Pearson dominated an eigth-wicket stand of 43 with 31 measured runs. Andy Whittall then celebrated his appointment to lead the Light Blues next season with a fortifying 40 as he and Chris Pitcher pitched in with a last-wicket liaison worth 70 in 14 overs. It was fun while it lasted.

With 97 required, Gallian and Richard Montgomerie sailed to 59 before Whittall's off-spin accounted for Montgomerie, leaving Gregor Macmillan to drive Whittall back over his head for the winning boundary an hour after tea.