Cricket: Yeabsley ensures Oxford's control

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The Independent Online
Oxford University 453-9 dec Cambridge University 252-9

'LEAVING balls to the off alone,' declared one Cambridge captain of the Victorian era, 'is downright bad cricket'. Judging by the philanthropic fashion in which the specialist batsmen donated their wickets yesterday before the last pair, Chris Pitcher and Fraser Cooke, reprieved them with an intrepid unbroken stand of 66, today's Light Blues are firm traditionalists.

The one unpredictable element to Oxford's dominance was that Patrick Trimby did not benefit. Imran Khan was the last Varsity bowler to arrive here in comparable nick. A leggy wrist-spinner on Warwickshire's books, Trimby currently stands 13th in the national averages, 25 wickets at 23.60 apiece - including seven for the Combined Universities against the New Zealanders last week - placing him above the entire England attack at Old Trafford bar Phil DeFreitas.

Here, though, Trimby was largely ineffectual. More roller than ripper, he contained but rarely outwitted, his sole success coming when John Carroll was leg-before to a quicker one that went straight on. The slack was taken up by the seam of Richard Yeabsley and Alasdair Maclay, the former's career-best 5 for 53 an encouraging prelude to a summer with Middlesex, the latter delivering off the wrong foot in a blur of arms and legs strongly reminiscent of Mike Procter. Both claimed wickets with consecutive balls to send Cambridge plummeting from 44 without loss to 94 for 6 after Oxford's hell-for-leathering had produced 74 runs and 6 wickets in the first hour.

Having followed up his century against the Australians last summer with a pair in this fixture, Russell Cake appeared primed to make amends, only to spar needlessly at Maclay and edge to second slip. Still, a first in the first two parts of his engineering degree ought to compensate, undermining as it does the less than enlightened admission policy that has so depleted University cricket.