Students from Cardiff and Durham will pit their cricketing skills against each other when they meet at Lord’s on Monday 27th June to contest the final of the MCC Universities Challenge competition.
Durham and Cardiff MCCUs beat off competition from Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds/Bradford and Loughborough to take the two top spots in the MCC Universities Championship, consequently securing their places in the annual final at the Home of Cricket. Both Durham and Cardiff are becoming regular visitors at Lord’s, with Durham hoping to build on an emphatic victory against Loughborough at the end of last season, and Cardiff aiming to repeat their triumph against Leeds/Bradford two years ago.
Monday’s contest will feature Leicestershire CCC team-mates Greg Smith and Will Jones who, on this occasion, will be in opposing dressing rooms as they represent Durham and Cardiff respectively. Smith, who finished top of the 2010 first class batting averages, in particular will be hoping to follow-up on an excellent 97 in the final against Loughborough last summer, with three figures this time around.
Simultaneous to the men’s final on the main Ground, the Lord’s Nursery Ground will host the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Women’s final for the first time. Leeds Metropolitan University will take on Loughborough in a bid to be crowned the best women’s student side in the country.
Durham and Cardiff MCCUs will warm up for their 50 over clash at Lord’s with some Twenty20 practice at the annual MCC Universities T20 tournament in Loughborough on the 24th and 25th of June. A strong Durham II side won the competition last summer, but without any county teams taking part in the event this weekend, all six MCCUs will be looking to finish the season with a bang in the shortest format of the game.
During a very successful season more students have scored centuries and taken five wickets hauls in 2011 than in any year since the scheme started in 2001. Approximately 20 percent of all English-qualified players currently in the professional county system attended an MCCU, and twelve current MCCU students have already played County Championship or Pro40 Cricket in 2011.
For players who are not signed to first class counties the opportunity exists to play second eleven cricket at the end of the university season in the MCCU Combined team. Former MCC Head Coach and England batsman, Clive Radley, manages the side, and has recently announced his squad for 2011. Their first fixture is against Lancashire II from the 29th June – 1st July at the Racecourse Ground, Durham.
Speaking about the prospects for the MCC Universities side in the North Division of the ECB Second Eleven Championship, Clive Radley said:
“I am really pleased with the make-up of the squad this summer. 2011 has already been a fantastic year for the MCC Universities scheme, and I am confident that we can continue this success with the combined team. A lot of very talented cricketers played for all six sides this summer, and I am really looking forward to working with this new group of players. I am sure that playing second eleven cricket will provide a further platform for some of them to go on and secure professional contracts with counties.”