REPORT: Oxford University v MCC Women

Andy Lynch reports on MCC’s recent match against Oxford University.

Lovely venue, perfect weather, idyllic scene – it is easy to imagine that Hugh de Selincourt had days like these in mind when he wrote his classic ‘The Cricket Match’. To complete the picture, all that was needed was a close finish – but MCC Women showed their experience in easing to a 69 run win over a spirited Oxford University side in the Parks.

This long standing fixture has been keenly contested over recent years, at a ground that practically breathes history – from the pavilion nestling within the beautiful Oxford Parks, to the engraved Blues teams on the walls for each season since Victorian times, to toilets that we strongly suspect date back to the Edwardian era.

Unlike some sporting institutions in the news of late, Oxford does welcome females, and this long standing fixture has been keenly contested over recent years. Results have ebbed and flowed – an Evelyn Jones-inspired victory by Oxford in 2013 prompted MCC to return ‘tooled up’ in 2014 via the inclusion of Claire Taylor and Charlotte Edwards. MCC proceeded to rattle up 360, win by 275 runs, photo-bomb Oxford’s team photo and doubtless pin the opposition to the wall and take their pocket money before allowing them home.

It was another strong MCC team who turned out again this year, with Mesdames Taylor and Edwards once again providing a more than solid look to the middle order. MCC won the toss and naturally batted first in perfect sunshine – a serene opening partnership between Genevieve Porter and Amanda Potgieter saw them move to 96-0 at the halfway stage of their 40 over innings.

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Oxford’s bowling impressed throughout however, and when the opening partnership was finally broken at 109, wickets started to fall with increasing regularity. Potgieter departed for a belligerent 64 off 83 balls, and steady bowling supported by some impressive fielding (a stunning boundary catch by Laura Down to dismiss Clare Ross being a particular highlight) saw MCC eventually being restricted to 202-9. The dismissal of Charlotte Edwards for just 9 by Sam Moore whilst attempting an extravagant reverse sweep was something of a bonus, although it could have been even better had 43 extras not been conceded (including 27 wides). A special mention to the opening pair of Sam Moore (2-29) and Immy Brown (3-28), who proved a handful for everyone.

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203 off 40 overs was not an outrageous ask, especially not after the fireworks of the Varsity T20 match the week before when Oxford achieved a total in excess of this in half the overs.

A lot seemed to depend on the star from the Varsity game, Sian Kelly, and early signs were good as Oxford took 23 off the first 3 overs (with MCC returning the compliment with a few wides of their own). Sian Kelly was unable to repeat her heroics from last week however – driving to mid-off for just 13 – and after 9 overs, Oxford were 42-3.

A collapse would not have been surprising, but to their credit, keeper Ellie Ingram and captain Immy Brown combined to add 68 in 15 overs. At 110-3, the game looked evenly poised, but having missed out with the bat, Charlotte Edwards made up for it with the ball, turning in the impressive figures of 2-6 off 6 overs. Nikhila Ravi also bowled with impressive loop to take 3-34 (or at least we think she did – given that we were convinced that she and her twin sister Neeraja were doing their upmost to be indistinguishable to the scorers). Ingram fell for an excellent 41 off 55 balls, and although Brown continued her lone hand thereafter, she was the last wicket to fall for 39 off 66 balls, to a smart catch by Claire Taylor off a full blooded pull.

So an eventually comfortable win by the MCC – but at a time when cricket participation is under scrutiny at all ages, levels and indeed sexes, the enthusiasm and skill shown by the Oxford team does them credit and provides optimism for the future. I suspect we’ll be hearing more of at least a couple today’s players.

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