The football season may still be in full swing, the “Beast from the East” may still be a recent memory, but nevertheless the cricket season is upon us again. This month will see players up and down the country, across the whole spectrum of abilities and of all ages dust down their pads, clean their whites and prepare themselves for yet another six months out in the field scoring runs, taking wickets and (fingers crossed!) savouring the summer sun. Come September they may again be relieved to see the back of this at times extremely unforgiving game yet there is no denying its beauty as a concept and its place as a firm fixture in any British summer.
For the cricketers of St Andrews this excitement to finally get started is plain to see. Cricket occupies a somewhat unique place within the University sports scene; unlike most other games there is only a short window in the academic year (regrettably usually during the height of exams) that it can be played in. This typically means that for University players, up to 8 months of training is only rewarded by roughly 5 or 6 games, all with the potential of falling victim to the famously inconsistent Scottish summer. Nevertheless, interviews with representatives from both the Men’s and Women’s Clubs of St Andrews revealed high levels of anticipation for the season to come.
Speaking to Men’s Club President Matt Watson this eagerness was plain to see as he highlighted how “The lads are all chomping at the bit to get going,” adding, “We spend so long honing our skills during indoor training without playing any fixtures, it really gives everyone a drive to succeed when the season finally rolls around.” Watson also mentioned how this enthusiasm to get started “is more true this year than any I’ve seen before.” With regards to the aims of the Club for the upcoming season, having three teams competing in three different leagues ensures a real variety of ambition – the first XI made “history last year as the first [St Andrews] team to maintain Premier League status,” cutting it alongside “teams who boast resources well out of our own reach” and will look to consolidate their Premier League status for another year. Elsewhere, “The second XI were a dropped catch away from clinching the title of Scottish champions” last year and with a squad arguably stronger this season, they will look to clinch the title this time round, an achievement that would be remarkable for a second team. The third XI also put out some impressive displays in their debut season and “have ambitions to win their League too.” Most noticeably the President also mentioned his desire for all Saints sides to play “with the right attitude, both individually and as a squad.” This is a particularly pertinent desire considering the controversy currently surrounding the game and the spirit of cricket following the ball tampering scandal the Australian national team were embroiled in last month. On a more personal level, when asked where he wanted to take the Club during his tenure as President, Watson emphasised his desire to maintain the Club’s “steep upward trajectory” through maintaining their strong membership growth and continuing to expand their list of events throughout the calendar. Ultimately, if he can “leave the Club in a better place than I found it… I’ll leave St Andrews a very happy man.”
This excitement to get the season underway was also mirrored when talking to Women’s Club secretary Sophie Taylor. She emphasised how “the girls have been working super hard with the help of our incredible coaches, both indoors three times a week and more recently outdoor sessions too.” Perhaps unsurprisingly Taylor added how “everyone is so excited to get playing and put our hard work into practice.” She also highlighted the team’s desire to be crowned league champions this season, an achievement that would be incredible when you consider they are scheduled to play some of the strongest Women’s university teams in the country. She did also stress how their “main goals are to play hard and have fun,” a cocktail that will hopefully result in silverware at the season’s close. Interestingly Taylor also downplayed the significance of England’s triumph at the Women’s Cricket World Cup last year with regards to boosting the Club’s popularity. While she did state how the triumph can “give us fantastic role models and aspirations,” she added that this was actually somewhat insignificant given that “girls stay for the love of the club, not just the game’s reputation.” Certainly though, if both clubs can channel this enthusiasm into their performances over the coming weeks, they will have much to celebrate at the season’s close.
Another new highlight of the short season will surely be the T10 Tournament organised by the Men’s club. This is a revamped version of the “Super 8s” competition of previous years and was devised by the club’s committee with the aim of eventually emulating the St Andrews Rugby 7s tournament that has proven such a hit in recent years. 12 teams are scheduled to enter the tournament with matches being 10 overs a side and the final rounds taking place on Saturday 28 April. With music, food and drink being provided at the sports centre for spectators throughout the Saturday as well as an after party at The Vic costing £6 a ticket through Fixr, this should be, weather-depending, a fantastic occasion.