MacMillan fights off underdogs

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The Independent Online
Cambridge Univ 295 and 126 Oxford Univ 233-9 dec and 190-1 Oxford win by nine wickets

For nearly two days the underdogs had kept their teeth deep in the mastiff's flank. Their grip was weakening fast, though, and yesterday they were abruptly shaken loose.

It was a striking reversal of fortune for a side who, at noon on Thursday, were 15 for 3, chasing 295. At the same hour yesterday their opponents were tottering at 81 for 7, only 143 on.

To escape, Cambridge needed Russell Cake - next year's captain - to get a second hundred. At first the slightly-built batsman dropped anchor, with just one scoring stroke in 45 minutes, before suddenly striking the first three balls from Angus MacRobert for 4, 6, 4. Then, in the game's big moment, he was bowled aiming a big drive at a full-length ball from the same bowler.

When the innings was wrapped up, with Oxford needing just 189 in 54 overs, the battle of the captains came to centre stage. In the first innings, the off-spin of Cambridge's Andy Whittall had an immediate impact. This time, his Oxford counterpart, Gregor MacMillan, took over as opening batsman and seemed intent on making the match his own.

The 6ft 5in MacMillan has an awkward stance, but his widespread feet move quickly into the on-side drive, and although Cambridge soon posted a man at long-on there was no stopping the captain.

Scoring much faster than anyone else in the match, MacMillan swept to a maiden century and finished the contest - with 7.2 overs to spare - with consecutive sixes.

Few of the 150 Varsity matches can have ended with so bravura a performance by a skipper - and won so convincingly by a side that had fallen behind so badly in the early stages. Struggling Leicestershire will be pleased, too. MacMillan is on their books and so is Iain Sutcliffe, who harvested two gritty fifties from the match.