- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Matthew Handley
Rain once again played havoc with Oxford sport as the MCCU drew with Kent after their three day test was curtailed by heavy rain on the second day.
With several big names rested for Kent, including England wicket keeper Geraint Jones and regular captain Robert Key, there were hopes that Oxford could get a positive result from the match. Previous results this season have been mixed for the MCCU side, with draws against Gloucestershire and Glamorgan clashing with defeats to the likes of Durham MCCU and Bradford/Leeds.
After winning the toss stand-in Kent captain Sam Northeast elected to bat first, taking advantage of a chance to gain a lead.
He didn’t live up to this though, falling after only four balls with Kent on three. Mike Powell at number three was also swiftly dealt with, scoring only twelve runs before being bowled by Ben Kemp. Sam Billings also fell early on, leaving Kent on 41 for 3 and seemingly unable to cope with the Oxford bowling attack.
It took a fabulous innings from Alex Blake and Scott Newman to finally calm the onslaught. Both were impressive at the crease, taking boundaries at regular intervals on their way to scoring 117 runs on the fourth wicket. There was little Oxford could do about it until off-spinner Sam Agarwal trapped Newman lbw, with the batsman on an agonising score of 87.
Blake came even closer to scoring a century, falling just three runs short as his wicket was finally taken. There was still time to add more for Kent, with Ben Harmison, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Fabien Cowdrey taking the overall total to 251 before Northeast opted to declare, leaving Oxford with a mountain to climb if they were to win the Test.
They started their innings badly, losing wickets in quick succession to excellent bowling from Adam Ball. There was no collapse though, as Ben Williams and Charlie Walker put in a solid performance to ensure the first day ended with Oxford at 50 for 2.
The second day was a complete washout, with umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Duguid abandoning play, setting up a decisive final day with Oxford still 201 runs behind Kent.
Once again, the morning session was rained off, making the prospect of a draw more likely as the dwindling time was against both sides. Picking up where they left off, Charlie Walker and Ben Williams continued to defend their wickets, going on to score a century together until Ben Harmison took his first wicket for Kent as Walker went for 64, caught by Dan Masters.
The match was now a war of attrition between the Kent bowlers and Oxford batsmen. Several wickets fell, with Blake supporting his impressive batting display by sending Ben Stubbings, Freddie John and, finally, Ben Williams back to the pavilion with a dominant display.
Nerves were clearly frayed within the Oxford ranks – Daniel Pascoe and Bilal Ashfaq set out to defend their wicket rather than score runs. When Ashfaq did finally exit he was on 6 runs after 57 balls, an impressive defensive display.
The tactic paid off as the lack of light led to the captains shaking hands and settling for a draw. Whilst Kent were far more impressive in scoring, the Oxford MCCU can be pleased with a performance which saw them holding on in the face of an aggressive attack. With the season beginning in earnest now there were definitely promising signs for the future.