This Friday, Cambridge’s cricketers will meet Oxford at Lords in the annual Varsity one-day matches. Both the men and the women’s Light Blues lost this fixture last season, but captains Darshan Chohan and Chloe Allison have high hopes that they can reverse this and triumph this time round. The games will be held concurrently, with the women’s match beginning at 10:45am on the Nursery Ground next to Lords, and the Men’s starting at 11:00am. The long-range weather forecast indicates a bright and warm day with little chance of rain, perfect conditions for playing and indeed watching cricket. Entry to the ground is £14 per person, with Lord's generously allowing spectators to bring either two pints-worth of beer or cider or a bottle of wine, as well as unlimited food and non-alcoholic drinks. All in all, an ideal way to round off a busy May Week (and perhaps to avoid your exam results if, like mine, they are released that day).
The men’s side come off the back of a thrashing at the hands of Cardiff, all out for just 117 runs after Cardiff had set a pretty unassailable 250-run tally. Although the light blues edge Oxford MCCU in the National table, they narrowly fell short again them in April with 191-5 after their rivals scored 203-6.
On the women’s side there is cause for optimism. Cambridge handed the dark blues a heavy defeat in BUCS last Wednesday to secure second spot in Midlands 1A, notching 185 runs in 30 overs with just two out compared to Oxford’s 148-7. They have momentum, but captain Chloe Allison remains cautious – level-headedness is crucial in the Varsity cauldron.
“We won the T20 last year but unfortunately Oxford pipped us to the 50 over Lords varsity,” she said. “I hope it will be a good game on Friday. It will go to whichever team executes their plans most effectively on the day, especially with the ball.
One big challenge for both teams is that the Nursery Ground is so small. It means that, especially with pace on the ball, [bowlers] have such little margin for error with line and length. That is where a cool head is essential.”
As ever, raucous support in this most acrimonious of sporting rivalries will be for the twelfth player. “Every year it is wonderful to have so much support and the atmosphere is always fantastic,” Allison remarked. “It is great when we get lots of people around the Nursery Ground because, it being smaller, they can really make themselves heard.
Cambridge spectators will of course be passionately behind the Light Blues. But equally, let’s hope for a competitive and compelling day’s cricket to herald the long summer before us.