Ecstasy and agony for Cambridge in the 2024 Varsity T20 cricket matches


With a great score on the board, the Cambridge bowling attack had a fantastic foundation to build onCameron Samuel Keys (@cameronsk_photo) with permission for Varsity

On Thursday 9th May, Lord’s played host to the 2024 T20 Varsity matches. Having lost the toss, Cambridge University Women’s Blues were sent out first to bat. The first wicket came in the third over when Alice Bebb was caught by Hannah Sutton. From that moment on, however, Issy Routledge and Ciara Boaden formed a formidable partnership with boundaries aplenty. The partnership was broken in the last ball of the ninth over, when Routledge was caught at mid-wicket by Oxford’s captain, Hannah Davis. With Cambridge at 81/2, one wondered if this dismissal would prove the moment that momentum began to turn in Oxford’s favour.

“wondered if this dismissal would prove the moment that momentum began to turn in Oxford’s favour”

It proved not to be, in part due to a flurry of Oxford fielding blunders. Sophie Harper was dropped at cover in the thirteenth over whilst Boaden was dropped on the boundary in the fourteenth. Neither catch was simple, yet both would have been crucial. Boaden punished these mistakes by bringing up a fantastic half century a couple of overs later. Despite a late couple of wickets for Oxford, both taken by Hannah Sutton, the Light Blues saw out a fantastic innings and finished with 163/4.

With a great score on the board, the Cambridge bowling attack had a fantastic foundation to build on. The first wicket came in the seventh over, as Annys Thirkell-Jones was caught at point by Boaden. Soon after, Cambridge got a second wicket as Harper caught Ellie Mickelwright’s drive to cover. With ten overs left, Oxford were already desperately running out of time to make up the runs and needed to double their run rate in the second half of the innings. As expected, with Oxford forced to play more aggressive shots, the wickets kept falling. The star of the show in this was Routledge, who took a hat-trick after some fantastic spin bowling. A lower half collapse meant Cambridge’s women cruised home to a magnificent Varsity victory by 36 runs.

“the Light Blues weren’t finding boundaries as they had done earlier in the innings”

Just like the women, Cambridge Men’s Blues batted first and were off to another strong start. Le Riche and Houillon formed a strong opening partnership, scoring 37 off the first four overs. That pairing came to an end when Zac Le Riche was clean bowled by Oxford’s Justin Clarke in the fifth over. The subsequent partnership of Harry Houillon and Alexander Ferreira lasted five overs and brought Cambridge’s score to 74 by the end of the tenth over.

Again though, just as a Cambridge pairing was beginning to really dominate the game, Oxford got a vital wicket. This time, Ferreira was caught at deep mid wicket by Max Kirby. Houillon continued his fine batting as Cambridge notched over the century mark by the fourteenth over. Heartbreakingly for him, however, his innings was over with a score of 49, one short of a half century after a superb run out by Toby Brown. Aaran Amin was next to be dismissed when he was clean bowled by Max Kirby in the fifteenth over. While they kept the scoreboard ticking over, the Light Blues weren’t finding boundaries as they had done earlier in the innings. Freddie Kottler was then caught in the 18th over after his ambitious attempt to reverse scoop a full toss was caught at deep point by Chris Mingard. Wickets kept falling as Hari Kukreja was caught the following over at deep mid-wicket. Cambridge did reach the 150 run mark in the final over and finished on 156/7 after Stan Norman was caught with the final ball of the innings.

Having posted a reasonable score, Cambridge needed to bowl well to have a shot at victory. Things started well for the Light Blues as Le Riche took the wicket of Dhruv Talati via LBW in the third over, before Amin bowled out Robbie Hardwick in the following over. However, after those two wickets, the partnership of George Roberts and Justin Clarke settled things down and brought the momentum well into Oxford’s favour. As the game went on, Oxford looked to be well in reach of their run rate target. Clarke was caught in fantastic fashion by Nico Smith, having scored 18 off 12. Roberts, the star of the innings, brought up his 50 after just 27 balls. Toby Brown was caught at cover by Kukreja in the 11th over, as Cambridge fought to regain control of the tie. Going into the last five overs, Oxford needed 34 off 30, with a strike rate comfortably over the 6.8 required. Yet in the 18th over, Stan Norman bowled the mightily impressive Roberts out, sparking the biggest celebrations of the afternoon yet. Oxford still only needed 15 off 13 balls to win but were now without the man who had scored 79 of their runs. Incoming batsman Joshua Royan stepped up to the mark though and helped Oxford win with just three balls remaining. An exhilarating end to a fantastic day of cricket.

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