Wednesday, 18 April 2012

York cricketers braced for battle

With all the hype about Roses and the College Cup building rapidly, something seems to have slipped under the sporting radar at York; this Sunday heralds the start of the men’s BUCS cricket season, while the women’s season begins a week today.

Few could possibly forget the men’s 1sts sensational promotion into the BUCS Northern 2B League last season, after winning all games but one against MCC, which they drew. The team also went on a memorable run in the Cup, beating York St John by 200 runs in the quarter finals before defeating Bradford in the semis by three wickets. The journey ended in disappointment, though, as they were defeated by Liverpool in the final.

The primary target this season will be survival, but finishing in the top two, to qualify for the cup, will not be entirely out of their reach. As captain Andy Kirkwood has said, the strength in depth of the squad is such that the players will feel that anything is possible this campaign.

Players to look out for include batsman Fraser Crawford, who recorded four centuries last season en route to becoming York’s top runner scorer. There’s also the all-rounder, Joel Hughes, who is opening bowler and top order batsmen. Finally, York can call upon exciting freshers talents including Sam Illingworth, the new opening batsmen, and Rob Gillespie, the new pace bowler.

Despite this, the team have a tricky first match away to Durham 2nds, who are likely contenders to win the Northern 2B League. York’s next two fixtures are easier on paper, however, as they have home matches against Leeds 2nds and local rivals York St John 1sts.

York celebrate victory against Bradford in last year's Cup
semi-finals (Photo: Oliver Todd)

 Meanwhile, the women’s team are part of a smaller division made up of just three other teams – Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. Each team plays each other twice with the top two teams making it through to the Cup. York have a tough start to their campaign with their first two matches being away from home. First, they will travel across the Pennines to face Manchester before making the trip south to Sheffield.

Although the university women’s cricket club was set up a couple of years ago, this will be York’s first season in BUCS. Ellen Whitehead, UYWCC President, told me how keen they are to get started: “We are looking forward to starting the season and are hoping to hit the ground running this year despite being a relatively inexperienced team. As one of the only players who has played BUCS before, I am looking forward to showcasing UYWCC's new talent.”

So I would expect this new-look York side to be a surprise package for whoever they come up against. However, one face will be familiar to some opposition, namely the ex-captain of Sheffield, Rebecca Woods, who is now studying for a Masters in York.  The match in Sheffield on 2nd May, and the return match in York just four days later, will undoubtedly be feisty affairs. York will also be relying on captain Kat Young for inspiration as well as the talented Louise Verrokken Jones and Izzy Wright.

All in all, the cricketing scene at York appears to be in excellent shape going into a busy summer term, and the teams deserve as much support as possible during what should be a very successful season.

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