Cricket winners at Nottingham Varsity 2022, the University of Nottingham

UoN win Varsity Cricket with ruthless all-round performance

The University of Nottingham produced an emphatic performance to dispatch Nottingham Trent University and win the men’s cricket at Varsity 2022, reports Will Hugall.

Things could have been different for Trent, but nine dropped catches and a middle-order batting collapse ultimately put the trophy comfortably in UoN’s hands.

Visiting captain Will Legg’s knock of 86 was undoubtedly the key contribution of the afternoon, setting his side up for an eventual 88-run victory.

The day began with overcast skies and a nip in the air at Clifton Campus, while the disappointing announcement was made that the women’s event would be dropped due to player unavailability.

Organisers made the decision to extend the men’s game to 40 overs apiece rather than the original 20-over format arranged, but the players adapted superbly to provide an entire afternoon’s worth of drama.

NTU captain Patrick Delahunty won the toss and opted to field first, which seemed a wise decision given a forecast for slightly warmer weather later on.

He may well have been regretting his decision when UoN openers Legg and Alan Jones set about their business, however, and the visitors reached 53-0 by the ninth over.

Opening bowlers Oscar Bean and Zac Rahman found it tough going as the batsmen picked off bad balls and would regularly cut for boundaries.

As the UoN fans were beginning to increase their volume, though, NTU eventually made their breakthrough.

Spinner Basit Khan came on and did a superb job to pin the batsmen back in their crease, before also being rewarded as Jones – on 41 – looped a catch to wicket-keeper Nathan Piper, coming round to silly mid-on.

That stalled the green and gold, and as Matt Allen also bowled a useful spell, UoN reached the halfway stage of their innings at 92-1.

Legg combined with Harrison Tagg next, but as soon as the former had his 50, the latter was run out.

Going for an extra run, Tagg was another victim of Basit’s tight spin in a fun but short-lived innings, out for 15.

The danger of another big stand from UoN was palpable as Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club Second XI player Sam King strolled out at four, but NTU certainly stepped up their efforts with this potential scalp.

Though Legg was put down at mid-on, the missed chance wasn’t too damaging as King was caught on the square leg boundary by Allen from Cameron Lindsay’s bowling.

Legg kept the UoN momentum going with Will Valentine, but soon, some wild shots were being played and the UoN batsmen were dropping like flies.

In truth, the UoN middle-order all should have been dismissed earlier.

Dropped catches allowed Valentine to gain 7, Legg to push onto 86 before holing out, and Viraj Gandhi and Freddie Thompson to produce rapid-fire 5 and 7’s, respectively.

These were small runs that the NTU fielders were giving away, but when wickets dried up, the issue became worse.

Wicket-keeper Ben Ollerenshaw and bowler Ishy Jandu stuck to their task at the bottom of the order, and from 190-7, dragged UoN all the way up to a total of 241-7 from their 40 overs.

With four chances to dismiss these two missed, both finished on 20 not out and set up a tough run chase for the hosts.

NTU openers Mattie Arnold and Doug McMurray came out after lunch in pursuit of 242, and despite a decent start, neither lasted long.

McMurray sent a catch to mid-wicket on just one, while Arnold – who had enjoyed a good battle with the boisterous UoN fans when fielding – was unable to produce the big innings he wanted, spooning a catch to Legg on 14.

Fortunately, captain Delahunty arrived with Luke Horgan to steady the ship and provide the NTU innings with the kick-start it needed.

The two combined for some solid defence and composed shot-making, taking their side comfortably past 50.

UoN had a trick up their sleeve, though, in the form of change bowler Sandu.

In his third over, Sandu launched an unbelievable attack, dismissing both set batsmen as Horgan was caught on 27 and Delahunty out LBW for 20.

With NTU reeling on 69-4, a slide had begun which eventually took them out of the game.

Lindsay gave Jandu his third wicket with a chipped shot straight to Legg, while Piper was soon stumped off Valentine’s bowling to reduce NTU to 79-6.

Allen and Rahman tried to make the best of a bad situation, with both in good nick as they prevented an absolute whitewash.

Allen was eventually dismissed for 19, while Rahman played excellently with five fours and a six to reach 40 from 30 balls.

Rahman’s exit came immediately after Bean had been sent packing for 7, with Will Neal’s tight bowling leaving NTU at 149-9 in the 33rd over.

The final blow came in stunning fashion, as Jandu splattered Khan’s stumps to curtail NTU at 153 and usher on a wild pitch invasion from the UoN supporters.

Thus concluded an afternoon of pulsating action, with UoN taking the cricket title for the third consecutive series and also extending their 2022 series lead to 6-3.

NTU had plenty to be proud of, though, and for what was essentially a season-opening fixture for both sides, a high standard all round must be commended.

All images courtesy of Shing Hei Yip (@a_place_of_relief on Instagram). 

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