MCC Universities

The MCC Universities programme has funded six university cricket teams in England and Wales, delivering top-level coaching and playing opportunities.

Since 2005 MCC has funded six university cricket academies in England and Wales - the MCC Universities (MCCUs).

The MCCUs are based in Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds, Loughborough and Oxford, and incorporate a total of thirteen institutions. They offer hundreds of courses for students of all academic levels, and some of the best coaching and facilities available anywhere in the country.

The aim of the MCCUs is to give talented young cricketers the chance to receive top-level coaching and playing opportunities whilst furthering their education.

Even the very finest sporting academies do not have a 100% success rate, so the MCCUs offer the best environment to excel on and off the sporting field, and the opportunity to obtain a degree which will be valuable whether the dream of professional cricket becomes reality or not.

In 2018, it was announced that the running of the MCCU scheme will pass to the ECB from July 2020.  MCC and ECB are currently reviewing the programme.  Prospective students are advised to apply to one of the existing 6 centres unless or until news to the contrary is published here or by ECB.

A day in the life of an MCC Universities cricketer

Centres of Excellence

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Notable Graduates

Around 25% of England qualified cricketers in the county game are products of one of the six MCC Universities.

Several have gone on to further honours, with ex-England captain Andrew Strauss - a Durham graduate - the most famous of all.

Other notable names who have come through the system include Jack Leach, Rory Burns, Tom Westley, Toby Roland-Jones, Monty Panesar, Zafar Ansari, Sam Billings, Heather Knight, Holly Colvin and Jamie Dalrymple.


Ashes-winning England captain Andrew Strauss is the most famous graduate of the MCC Universities scheme.

Strauss, who retired from cricket in 2012 after playing 100 Tests for his country - with 50 as skipper - was one of the earliest beneficiaries of the scheme, studying Economics at Durham between 1995-1998.

His time at Durham coincided with former England batsman Graeme Fowler establishing the first official Centre of Excellence at the University.

A talented cricketer who admits to having not taken his game particularly seriously prior to University, Strauss flourished under the tutelage of Fowler, becoming a regular in the Middlesex team by the time he left the north-east of England.

In 2015, Strauss was appointed Director of Cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, responsible for the long-term strategy of the England men's cricket team

Sam Billings has been on a rapid rise to the top since graduating from Loughborough MCCU back in 2013.

He has been a star player for Kent, featured for England in both ODIs and T20s having made is ODI debut in 2015 against New Zealand and was part of England’s squad who reached the 2016 ICC World Cup T20 Final. 

Billings was picked up by the Delhi Daredevils for their 2016 IPL campaign and has also played for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, making him a well-renowned name across the globe.

Zafar Ansari, a Cambridge MCCU graduate, went on to play Test Match and One-Day International cricket for England before retiring at the age of 25 to further ambitions away from the game.

Ansari made his ODI debut for England in a game against Ireland and was incredibly unfortunate that on the day of his call up to the England Test Squad, he suffered a dislocation of his left thumb whilst playing for Surrey against Lancashire at Old Trafford.

However he did play three Tests for England on the tour of Bangladesh and India in 2016, but as the 2017 domestic season began, Ansari announced that he would be exploring another career, potentially in law. 

Panesar's game benefitted from three years spent perfecting his metronomic action while studying in the East Midlands under former Loughborough coach and England bowler Graham Dilley.

Panesar graduated with a degree in Computing in Management in 2005, and less than a year later had been drafted into the England squad for the tour of India, where he established himself as his country ís number one spinner with a succession of excellent performances.

One of his finest hours for England came in the memorable series win in India in 2012-13, claiming 17 wickets.

Panesar played 50 Test Matches for England, taking 167 wickets, a record which puts him 20th on the all-time wicket-taking list.

He has also represented Northamptonshire, Sussex and Essex in county cricket, and in 2017 was appointed by Cricket Australia as a spin consultant for their tour of India.

Former England wicket-keeper James Foster graduated from the University of Durham in 2003.

The Essex ëkeeper made his England debut during his time as a student, deferring some of his studies in Sports Science to play for his country in India in 2001.

While Foster failed to establish himself as the long-term successor to Alec Stewart as Englandís gloveman, he has been one of the most consistent and prolific cricketers on the county circuit for longer than a decade.

He has often been considered as one of the finest wicket-keepers in world cricket, and has played almost 300 first-class matches since making his debut in 2000.

Holly Colvin became one of England Womenís star names after graduating with Durham MCCU.

A left-arm spinner, Colvin studied Natural Sciences between 2009 and 2012 at Durham, combining her studies with being a regular in the England team ñ having made her international debut as a 15-year-old. She became the youngest England Test cricketer of either gender.

She went on to play five Tests, 72 one-day internationals and 50 Twenty20 internationals, and became an ICC World Cup and ICC World T20 winner in 1999, as England lifted both trophies in quick succession.

After winning the Ashes in 2013, she took a break from the game to work for the charity Cricket Without Boundaries, before returning to play for her county Sussex in 2015.

However she decided to call time on her playing career altogether later that year, at the age of 26, to take up an administrative position at the ICC in Dubai.

Opening batsman Porterfield is one of a number of cricketers from outside the UK to have benefitted from the MCCU scheme.

Porterfield has played a key role in the rise of Irish cricket over the past decade and was a part of the team which famously beat Pakistan in the 2007 ICC World Cup in the Caribbean.

He then captained his country to one of their finest hours, the remarkable win over England in the 2011 ICC World Cup in India.

Porterfield forged a successful county career, firstly with Gloucestershire, before moving to Warwickshire, where he played a part in their 2012 County Championship victory.

With Ireland being awarded Test status by the ICC in 2017, Porterfield was released by Warwickshire at the end of the season, and the left-handed opener returned to his homeland to prepare for his country's elevation to the longer format of international cricket.

Rory Burns, who made his Test match debut for England in November 2018 in Sri Lanka, played for Cardiff MCCU before making his bow for Surrey.

The left-hander made over 1,000 runs for Cardiff MCCU in the summer of 2010, including an unbeaten 230 against Oxford MCCU at The Parks.

Burns, who had played as a youngster in Surrey’s age group teams, had already featured for their second eleven before his stint with Cardiff MCCU, and signed his first professional deal as a 20 year-old with the Oval outfit in December 2010 - on the back of his fine University summer.

Epsom-born Burns proceeded to cement his place with Surrey over the next few seasons, scoring heavily initially in the second eleven, and then the first team.

He was named captain of Surrey in 2018, and led the team to their first County Championship title since 2002. He amassed 1,319 runs at an average of 69.42 in the process, a stellar campaign which earned him a first call-up to the England Test team, and he made his international bow against Sri Lanka in Galle in November of that year.

Burns had big shoes to fill, with England’s greatest run scorer Sir Alastair Cook having retired at the end of the 2018 summer – however, after some initial success in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, Burns announced himself on the international stage with a maiden century against Australia at Edgbaston, in the first Test of the 2019 Ashes Series.

Burns scored 390 runs in that series as he began to further strengthen his place at the top of the order and a second century came in England’s drawn Test with New Zealand in Hamilton later that year.

Somerset’s Jack Leach wrote himself into Ashes folklore in the summer of 2019 with a famous tenth-wicket partnership with Ben Stokes, but it was Cardiff MCCU where the left-arm spinner began his first-class journey almost a decade earlier.

Taunton-born Leach graduated from Somerset’s academy system in the summer of 2010. By that point he was already playing for Cardiff MCCU, the first of three years in which he would feature for his University team. Leach also performed in Minor Counties cricket, helping Dorset to the Minor Counties Championship in 2010.

In 2012 Leach made his first-class debut for Cardiff MCCU, ironically against Somerset at Taunton. Later that summer, Leach would make his first-team bow for Somerset, against Lancashire at Liverpool.

In his first three summers Leach played a handful of Championship games but in 2016 he enjoyed a breakthrough year, taking 68 first-class wickets at an average of 22.58. A haul of 51 in 2017 earned him a call-up to the England Lions squad in which he impressed.

His form earned him a Test debut against New Zealand in Christchurch in 2018, and later that year he took eighteen wickets in England’s three-match series against Sri Lanka.

In 2019 it was his batting that made the headlines - in the one-off Test against Ireland at Lord’s in 2019, Leach scored 92 batting as a night watchman as England hit back to record victory. During the Ashes Series, England pulled off one of the most remarkable victories of all time to defeat Australia at Headingley and Leach – scoring an unbeaten single – batted for an hour with Stokes and shared an epic partnership of 76, winning the nation’s hearts in the process.   

MCCU players who have scored 100 or taken five wickets in an innings against county opposition.

Honours Board
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This varies from once centre to the next but usually involves the purchase of kit.  The vast majority of costs are covered.

The six MCCUs compete against each other in the MCC Universities Championship, with the top two going onto the MCC Universities Challenge Final at Lord’s.  (Note, in 2019, the Final won’t happen due to Lord’s hosting the ICC World Cup.)

They are also part of the British Universities & Colleges Sport competition – where they play other university sides.

Yes, all six universities play two first-class matches a year against county opposition. They also play an additional fixture against a county which does not have first-class status.

The county fixtures last for three days.  For 2019, the MCC Universities Championship will also be played over three days.  BUCS matches are 50-overs and there are also Twenty20 matches, ensuring that a wide variety of formats are covered.

Yes, MCCUs are for elite cricketers, male and female.  The majority of the current England team have attended an MCCU.

The Combined MCCU side, which used to play in the 2nd XI Championship, is no longer in operation but the MCCUs work with counties to try to ensure that the best non-contracted players get chances to trial once the University term has ended.

Each institution has different rules on bursaries so they need to be contacted directly regarding this.

Like any other student, potential MCCU cricketers have to apply to university through UCAS.

However, do please contact us if any advice is required about your choice of University or your application in general.

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