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MCCU's set for county challenge

MCC’s six University centres kick off their annual first-class fixtures against the counties on Saturday, with 18 matches taking place in April and May.

The first-class matches are all three days and will provide a wonderful opportunity for the MCCU players to impress at a high level.

The matches are the highlight of the season for the MCCU players, who will be desperate for some fair weather.

All six sides start their campaigns over the weekend of 2/3 April.

Cambridge MCCU will take on an Essex side including Ashes winner Alastair Cook, at the lovely Fenners ground in the city.

Upset due?

None of the MCCU’s have beaten a county side since 2005 when three student sides recorded victories in the same summer.

Leeds/Bradford overcame Surrey, Loughborough beat Worcestershire and Cambridge were the victors over Middlesex at the start of a famous cricketing summer.

Loughborough came tantalisingly close to another famous win when they were beaten by just one run against Yorkshire in 2007.

But despite wins being few and far between, MCC’s Laws & Universities Manager Fraser Stewart insists county fixtures are the most hotly anticipated games of the year:

"The games against the counties are the undoubted highlight of the season for the MCCU players.

"Not only does it give them a chance to test themselves against stronger and more experienced oppositions, but it also gives a great opportunity to showcase their talent to county coaches who are always on the look-out for new signings."

Strong grounding

The MCCU scheme aims to give young players the opportunity to receive top-level coaching and playing opportunities while furthering their education.

The six centres incorporate 13 institutions and provide a good balance between education and cricketing development for all those involved.

Famous alumni from the scheme include current England captain Andrew Strauss and Ireland skipper Will Porterfield.

England internationals Monty Panesar, Jamie Dalrymple and James Foster - as well as England women’s players Caroline Atkins and Nicky Shaw are also graduates.

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