Varsity Build-Up: Men’s Cricket
Sex, Sixes and singles all feature in the Blues’ preparations for the Varsity cricket match.
For fans of Cambridge university cricket this season is shaping up to be a memorable one. The current crop of players has been compared by some commentators to the squads of the “golden age” of Cambridge cricket in the late 1990s. Plus, there’s a spectacular place to watch them play as Fenners has recently been voted the third best cricket ground in the country by the ECB.
Captained by Akbar Ansari (who has achieved Varsity match centuries in successive years) the team has won their first two league matches defeating Nottingham men’s 1sts and Loughborough University’s Men’s 2nds.
While the team has no players of the calibre of previous blues Ed Smith and Michael Atherton, it does have in Anand Ashok the batsman who recorded the fifth best average in global first-class cricket in 2009. The team also has plenty of burgeoning young talent including Frankie Brown, Ed Pearson, Gus Kennedy and Michael Taylor to name just a few.
Tab Sports spoke to captain Akbar Ansari at the team’s state of the art training facility at Fenners.
How does this team compare to the great Blues squads such as those during the so-called “golden age” of the 1990s?
While this team is not as strong as those squads its make-up is similar. For instance, the number of post grads to under graduates is roughly 50/50. The dip in quality is the product of the professionalization of cricket as young guys are forced to choose between a degree and a contract.
How has the team fared in the League so far?
We have played 2 and won 2. This unbeaten record is down to good bowling and good batting right down the order.
How confident are you about the team’s chances in the upcoming T20 and Varsity one day matches against Oxford?
Pretty confident, yeah. We have a lot of good batsmen and the squad has a lot of depth and experience. Plus, we have a well-balanced bunch of bowlers.
With the departure of Barbadian quickie Ruel Braithwaite how is the team’s bowling attack shaping up?
A couple of guys have put their hands in, and in Sam Perkins and Charlie Hopkins we have a handy new ball partnership. While some strike power has gone the spinners are bowling well. This may entail a slight tactical change.
Do you think Cambridge University will ever produce a cricketer to rank alongside Michael Atherton or Ed Smith?
It’s hard to see it happening, particularly when academic ability is rated far above sporting prowess in application criteria. However, next year’s intake includes a couple of boys who played cricket at England U19 level.
With regard to college cricket which teams do you think have a shot at the trophy?
Caius looks like the best side. This is probably down to their policy of bringing in post grads as ringers. Tit Hall are also in with shot again although God knows why.
For those wishing to take a break from revision where can people come and watch you play?
Come down to Fenners. Bring some work and have the cricket going on in the background.
The T20 is on the 4th June at the Parks, Oxford.
The Blues one-dayer is on the 4th July at Lord’s, London.
The Blues four-dayer is over 6-9 July at the Parks, Oxford.
The IPL is known for its big sixes, ridiculous shots and short-skirted cheerleaders: how does Varsity T20 compare?
The cheerleaders are great and the shots are equally ridiculous.
Players to watch out for
James Greenwood – Philanderer
According to sources “Greeners” is another one in a long line of cricketers renowned for their off the field sexploits. Known to his fellow players as a “stud” Greenwood also plays rugby union for the university.
Frankie Brown – Philately
While Frankie too is known as something of a Don Juan the player is also a self-confessed lover of rare stamps and coins.
Gus Kennedy – Singles Specialist
In an age of big bats and bigger sixes Kennedy harks back to a purer form of the game. His game is inspired by the Tesco school of cricket that “Every little helps”.
The Blues are sponsored by Cipla and Nike.
Their kit supplier is Matrix sports, a leading supplier of cricket gear.
The T20 will be sponsored by Charles Russell and Matrix will have a kit tent at the cuppers twenty20 final.