Smith makes the best of a slow pitch

Cricket
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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 299-4 dec Oxford University 133-4

It seems to have become the fashion to have a go at cricket at Oxford and Cambridge as if it is a main contributory cause of the present plight of England's side. This makes it a particular pleasure to be able to reveal the good health of the game at Oxford.

The counties - they are still as eager as ever to come to The Parks and Fenner's for early season matches - have usually, even in the old days, had their way with the universities in April and May. Now, Leicestershire were made to work hard for their advantage over Oxford.

On a very slow pitch Ben Smith batted 320 minutes for his 123 not out against bowling which was steady and fielding which was always excellent. He was helped in an unbroken stand of 176 in 44 overs by Paul Nixon who batted with rather more of a flourish for his unbeaten 100 in 176 minutes.

Oxford are kept alive by Keeble who provided seven of the 13 players from whom this side was chosen. The college rightly takes the view that competent sportsmen are important to the health of a university.

None of Oxford's bowlers were taken apart. The two tall South African openers, Pierre du Preez (left-arm over) and Russell Thomson, were steady at just above medium pace. David Mather, also left-arm over, bowled better than 0 for 81 may suggest and the off-spinner Hasnaim Malik will have his rewards as the summer develops.

Six of the present side are involved with counties and their cricket was always purposeful. Little was given away by either batsmen or bowlers who clearly had a good working knowledge of the basics.

While Chinmay Gupte, the captain who is a medical student playing his sixth year, anchored the Oxford innings and Gul Khan with some lovely fluent strokes in his 56 not out, showed that they are far from being out of their depth against Leicestershire's front line bowlers.

(Leics won toss; second day of three)

LEICESTERSHIRE - First Innings

(Saturday: 139 for 4)

B F Smith not out 123

P A Nixon not out 100

Extras (lb6, w3) 9

Total (for 4 dec, 85.4 overs) 299

Did not bat: A D Mullally, C C Remy, G J Parsons, A R K Pierson, D J Millns.

Bowling: DuPreez 18-0-60-1; Thomson 19-6-46-1; Wagh 7-0-29-0; Mather 19.4-2-81-0; Malik 20-3-65-1; Khan 2-0-12-0

OXFORD UNIVERSITY - First Innings

*C M Gupte c Parsons b Pierson 29

I J Sutcliffe c Wells b Parsons 16

A C Ridley c Nixon b Mullally 15

G Khan not out 56

M Wagh c Millns b Wells 0

H S Malik not out 6

Extras (b3, lb8) 11

Total (for 4, 52 overs) 133

Fall: 1-30, 2-45, 3-113, 4-114.

To bat: M E D Jarrett, J N Batty, R Thomson, D P Mather, S P DuPreez.

Bowling: Millns 10-6-12-0; Mullally 10-1-35-1; Parsons 13-3-37-1; Pierson 11-2-27-1; Wells 4-0-9-1; Maddy 2-1-1-0; Macmillan 2-1-1-0.

Umpires: A G T Whitehend and N G Cowley.

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