Cricket: Saviour Whittall left high and dry

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The Independent Online
Oxford University 453-9 dec

Cambridge University 253 and 243-8

Match drawn

MUCH parochial glee has greeted the declining influence exerted by overseas graduates in Varsity cricket. Typical, then, that Cambridge's saviour yesterday should have been the one interloper, the Zimbabwean off-spinner Andy Whittall, who celebrated his reappointment as captain with a masterly undefeated 91 that put the efforts of his supposed superiors into perspective.

Cambridge were quickly following on 200 behind, Chris Pitcher snicking Richard Yeabsley to the sticky-fingered Gregor Macmillan, who grasped his fourth catch of the innings at second slip.

Garri Jones was soon leg-

before pulling at Yeabsley, where upon John Ratledge plopped forward immaculately to the next ball, missed it and was nailed in front. So ended a less than glorious match for the new light blue secretary, whose king pair supplemented a painful dose of colitis.

Yeabsley made a further incision four overs later when Rob Mann essayed an upper cut for the back-pedalling Chris Hollins to pocket an excellent catch at deep backward point. Simon Ecclestone, bound for Somerset, but hitherto more of a nuisance to physio than batsmen, then claimed his first victim and by bowling John Carroll, the first time in the contest that a bowler had disturbed the bails.

At 27 for 4 with four and a half hours remaining, Cambridge were shaping up for a sharp exit, but now fingers were inserted into the dyke. Russell Cake and Jamie Hodgson added 56, Hodgson and Whittall 65.

After three hours' invaluable if painstaking acquisition, Hodgson finally yielded, yorked by Yeabsley, who thus expanded his match takings to 10 wickets. Now Cambridge required a further 30 with nearly an hour and a half to kill, but Whittall was well into the groove and in Nick Haste found a trenchant ally, the eighth-wicket pair putting on 59 with increasing freedom.

With five overs to go and the draw certain, some umpires might have permitted Whittall to try for three figures, but stumps were summarily drawn. These are indeed mean-spirited times.