KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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After the tragic death of Tommy Hardman at the end of last year, who was not only a pivotal member of the team, but also the captain of Leeds/Bradford MCCU, the season could have gone one of two ways for us.
Thankfully, due to the leadership, discipline and management from our coach Andrew Lawson and manager Nick Davis, the season was one of insurmountable success.
After this hectic and successful University season, in which we won all but the twenty20 cup, a select bunch of ambitious and determined cricketers from the six MCC University centres got the opportunity to play for the Combined University side.
This side competes in the Second XI Championship and this year we were based in the South Division. Over the course of ten weeks, from June until the end of August we played nine three-day games.
MCCU Combined season
Of these nine fixtures, five were drawn and four were lost. However, this does not paint the whole picture.
The team was lead by Cardiff’s Adam Miles admirably for the first six games, before he had to leave due to other commitments. And for the final three matches, it was shared between James Johnson of Cambridge, Zach Elkin of Cardiff and myself.
We got off to an almost ideal start against Sussex II.
Not only did we nearly pull of a convincing victory, but I struck a century (106) along with Anish Patel (108) and Devon Endersby (105 no) - both Loughborough boys.
Three centuries from a University Combined XI in one game is an impressive stat in itself. But it was made all the better by that fact that not a single player in the Combined Side had scored a hundred the year before, so our coach Clive Radley was overjoyed with the performance.
The former Middlesex and England batsmen Radley is real figuredhead for the side. 'Rads' - as he is affectionately known - is not only a great inspiration to myself, but he was and still is always available, and happy to talk about technical, tactical and political matters at hand.
We had drawn a game against a strong side in Sussex and out played them for the majority of the match, falling just two wickets short of a victory. Owen Morgan (our left arm spinner from Cardiff) in particular was great that day, taking four wickets in the final innings.
Another particularly memorable match was the game against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham Cricket Club.
After coming off the back of a disappointing defeat to a strong Essex side at Bishop’s Stortford, we needed a far better performance, and not only did we play some of our best cricket; but Ivo Hobson (134) of Durham and myself (125) also managed to score hundreds.
Our two spinners, Andy Laws of Leeds and Owen Morgan, bowled really well second innings taking three wickets each, however we couldn’t quite force the victory we thought we deserved.
There were many other excellent performances throughout the season.
James Johnson and Alex MacQueen, from Leeds/Bradford were fantastic, while Zach Elkin and Jon Denning both from Cardiff and Stuart Whittingham of Loughborough excelled.
Over the past two years, the MCCU scheme has given me the structure and training that I have needed while at University.
Not only have I had access to professional coaching and training, but it has also allowed me to explore my academic interests as well, whilst having a ridiculously entertaining time of it.
The first class fixtures are without doubt the showpiece matches of the season and give us the opportunity to showcase our talents against professional and international cricketers.
To beat Leicestershire with Leeds/Bradford earlier this year was really fantastic and definitely the highlight of the season.
I would strongly suggest attending a MCC University to any young cricketer who is considering it, as it is a fantastic opportunity to improve your cricket as well as acquiring many others skills.
MCC's students of the game