BUCS shuns Twenty20 cricket

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The university cricket season is nearly upon us once again. Team members would usually be hunting down those elusive cricket whites, misplaced after a winter of inactivity, whilst desperately attempting to force reluctant muscles back into action in preparation for pre-season. However, for many of them, this familiar ritual has been replaced by uncertainty and anger, as the BUCS committee has spent the winter at­tempting to change the format of both the league and cup competitions.

Usually, the BUCS cricket calen­dar comprises of a 50-over league for all tiers, followed by a knock-out cup competition. However, due to a poor completion rate during the 2011-12 season, which saw only 39.8% of games finished, the BUCS committee office tabled a paper at competitions group, which proposed to scrap the Twenty20 knock-out cup. The com­petitions group felt that the proposed changes would not reduce the fixture congestion, or improve the completion rate.

Therefore, they suggested that, in addition to scrapping the cup com­petition, the league format should be reduced, for the men’s leagues 2A and below and all of the women’s leagues, from 50 overs to 20. The only knock­out element to be retained would have been the Men’s Trophy, which would have been an end of season knockout between the top two teams from Pre­mier North and South. BUCS stated that:

“the changes will allow institutions to fulfil more fixtures, with less time pressure… without compromising the elite end of BUCS leagues.”

However, the alterations, espe­cially the reduction of the league format, have caused uproar in the university cricket community. A peti­tion, launched by Freddie Hulbert of the University of Kent, on the website ‘change.org’ attracted 1506 signatures and St Andrews’ Cricket Club was equally dissatisfied. Jake Starkey, cap­tain of the St Andrews’s Men’s Cricket team, called the changes “an ill-in­formed reaction to some unseasonal bad weather.”

He referred to the reduction of overs as a decision which would force “teams to play what is essentially a ‘mickey mouse’ form of cricket” and said that, had the reduced over format been enforced, it “would have degrad­ed the BUCS competition as a whole and made the gap between the tiers… almost irreconcilable.” Commendably, BUCS recognised the unpopularity of its changes, the package was put up for revote and 57% of the 108 mem­bers have voted to reinstate 50 over cricket, although the cup competition will remain as it was in the original proposal.

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