T’was the night before the USC vs Notre Dame game, when all through the USC campus there was a stirring….it was the USC Marching Band and the USC Cheerleaders, as the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins took the field to play….a cricket game.

Arvin Varma, Lloyd Jodah, Tarun Tiyagi, Junayd Banday, David Sentance. Photos courtesy of American College Cricket

Perhaps because only 12 miles separate the campus the rivalry is unlike any other, though their strength lie in different sports, USC is consistently one of the top football teams in the nation whilst UCLA is one usually one of the top basketball teams. UCLA has won more national team championships than any other university in the nation, whilst USC is # 3.

Alumni of UCLA include Jackie Robinson (who also played football for UCLA), Troy Aikman, and NBA stars Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton and  Reggie Miller. Alumni of USC include Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush, and Carson Palmer as well as MLB Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Mark McGuire.

USC covers its “Tommy Trojan” statue in bubble wrap and duct tape, while UCLA hides its Bruin statue with a large sign reading “THE Bruin Bear is hibernating beat ‘SC.” UCLA Hall of Fame Coach Henry “Red” Sanders said “Beating ‘SC is not a matter of life and death, its more important than that.”

One week before the Trojans and Bruins were set to play at the Rose Bowl, the first Annual Sentance Varma Classic took place at Cromwell Field. The two arch rivals will now play an annual cricket game for, not the Victory Bell, but the Victory Stumps! “Conquest” had come to cricket!

USC Trojans Cheerleaders.

The event is named after David Sentance and Arvin Varma. David Sentance, a cricket historian and author of “Cricket in America 1710-2000 and an Alumni of UCLA, has been a key figure of Southern California cricket for decades. Arvin Varma is a USC alumni, who started the Trojan Cricket Club in 1992. Varma is now Assistant Director of Recreational Sports at the University of Southern California.

The Trojans participated in the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship, and play in the Southern California Cricket Association leagues, acquiring a lot of experience. The Bruins are new to American College Cricket, and just managed to put a tape ball team together for this inaugural game, but you could not tell that from the fight they put up.

USC after a shaky start losing Tarun Sandhu early, amassed 199 runs due to a swashbuckling 65 from eventual MVP, Abhimayu Soin, who played confident shots all around the wicket to dominate the Trojans scoring. Out of the first 59 runs Abhimanyu had 52, to chants of “Fight On”.

It looked to be a tough task for any team, however the UCLA Captain Junayd Banday, as his team loudly did the UCLA chant, took it to the USC bowlers with some tremendous shots. He laid into the Trojans  bowling  with arrogance and the ball continually flew into the stands. However Banday eventually went for 79, and UCLA fell short by 40 runs. So on a record cold night in LA the University of Southern California took home the “Victory Stumps” in the inaugural Annual Sentance Varma Classic!