• Cancelled fixtures puts league completion in doubt 
  • Lack of warm up matches affects team performances

For Men’s Cricketers in St Andrews, the season is short and intense.  Months and months of indoor nets boil down to just six fixtures per team in three short weeks.  When warm-up matches are factored in, all three teams may have only twenty or twenty-one games between them.

For the three captains, trying to get enough players to fill each team can be a challenge.  Since the beginning of the academic term, dozens of potential players have attended net sessions and dozens more have expressed an interest in playing.

Despite this, with deadlines rushing by and exams looming, many students find themselves unable to set aside two entire days a week.  The three captains must between them find 33 people willing to do this twice a week.

Fortunately, St Andrews has a very active sporting population and, with a little gentle arm-twisting and persuasion, three sets of eleven players wake up every game day ready to play, something not many other universities can boast.  This season, their hopes have all too often been dashed.

After the first warm-up match for the 2nd team went ahead in cold conditions, two further warm-up games were cancelled due to the weather.

The first round of league games was rained off, and so was the second.  The 2nd team were due to play the University of the Highlands and Islands who had to cancel thanks to puddles on the pitch.  This in April.

To say the weather has not been conducive to playing cricket is something of an understatement.

This weekend, the Cricket Club’s luck got even worse.  After another warm-up game (this time for the 3rd team) managed to squeak in under the weather radar on Friday night, two out of the three league games were cancelled on Sunday.

Edinburgh Napier (due to play the club’s 3rd team) have had to withdraw from BUCS while the Dundee 2nd team called off their game with the St Andrews 2nd team on the grounds that their pitch was unsuitable. The blazing sun that shone all weekend made something of a mockery of the decision.

Fortunately the St Andrews 1st team did manage to get their season underway, but were clearly suffering from a lack of match practice.

The Edinburgh 1st team racked up 235 despite excellent bowling performances from both Ben Hildred and Ali Stokes, who each took three wickets.  In reply, Thomas Beattie and Stephen Ditchfield put on thirty for the first wicket, but the rest of the batting line-up couldn’t capitalise on this start and they folded for just 92.

With a season this short, it is crucial to hit the ground running in order to maximise results.  When warm-up games get washed out, it can be hard to make the transition from indoor training to outdoor reality.  Sunday’s game is proof of this.

Furthermore, potential players dislike being pulled from pillar to post as a result of cancelled games.

A student who arranges his week around playing on a Wednesday only to be told in the morning that the game is off due to weather is understanding, and still willing to be selected for the following game.

When it happens three games in a row, and when that third time seems to be for dubious reasons, patience starts to wear thin, making the job of the captains even harder.  University cricket may not require much pumping up, but it is still hard to know where to channel all that expected physical output.

As the season wears on, and work begins to pinch ever tighter, willing players become ever more difficult to find.  When games become postponed, they begin to eat even further into the exam period, making the teams even harder to put together.

Thanks to the number of fixtures that have had to be postponed this year, there is a serious risk that they will carry on right to the end of exams.  Should any more games be rained off, the league may become virtually impossible to complete.

All of this adds up to a very frustrating season to date.  There is still time to restore it, and play all of the scheduled games.  There is even still time for every team to have a successful season.

Unfortunately, despite the wide pool of players available, that will get tougher the longer games are postponed for.  Hopefully, rain will stop stopping play soon.

 

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