UoB men’s cricket team look to put a disappointing Winter behind them as they ramp up preparations for the all important Summer season, starting in April.

Written by Joe Liddicot
Hi, I'm Joe, a Third Year Political Science and International Relations student studying here at UoB. I have a passion for sport, especially football and basketball, playing and watching them both obsessively.
Images by James Bennett

With temperatures below 0, swirling winds, and snow falling this March, you’d be forgiven if cricket wasn’t a sport at the forefront of your mind. However, for UoB’s cricketers, the hard work continues in spite of the inclement weather.

While the pinnacle of the season happens during the summer term, the team has little time to relax during Winter. Much like in other Summer sports like athletics, cricket’s Winter schedule consists of indoor competitions. Unfortunately, this year’s indoor season was short and underwhelming. The 1st team did not progress out of the first round, meaning their campaign was cut short. However, the tournament – which consisted of seven ‘six a side’ indoor games over two days at Edgbaston – provided useful practice and experience. As well as a reality check that the team must do more if it wishes to make a success of its season. The team came third in that tournament, not shameful by any means, but disappointing for a squad that expected to be challenging for the win.

Some positive results and performances during that time will inspire confidence and settle any lingering doubts

Moving on from the dingy Winter months and into brighter, longer days, the squad will put the indoor season behind them and focus forward to Summer. Preparations are already well underway, with training at Edgbaston every Wednesday and on campus on Mondays. Saturday morning fitness sessions ensure that the team will be in peak condition come competition time, while also guaranteeing some sore legs on the dancefloor come Saturday night.

The BUCS season starts at the end of April, but the teams will be playing outdoor cricket before then thanks to ‘Cricket Week’ a couple of weeks beforehand. That week, taking place over the Easter holidays, consists of 3 to 4 games for each team to prepare them for the season. Some positive results and performances during that time will inspire confidence and settle any lingering doubts still lurking from Winter.

There are 4 men’s teams competing in the outdoor cricket season. Conveniently in Midlands Division 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. This year, there is hope around that the 2nd team can achieve promotion from Division 2, as they look especially strong. Their season kicks off at home to Notts Trent 2s on the 26th April.

The season is short and sharp, with just 6 games per league campaign meaning a fast start is necessary for any chance of success. Match days can be long, a trip to an away ground followed by a 50-over game is a full-day ordeal, but a taste of victory makes it all worthwhile. Luckily for the club, there are no arduous journeys halfway across the country, the fixture list doesn’t take UoB further than Oxford, Nottingham or Shropshire.

Months of physical, technical and mental preparation comes down to a spell of less than a month

Many of the first team players will travel back home on Saturdays to play for their club sides, which helps them to find a rhythm quickly and be on top form as the season progresses. Crippling fatigue isn’t as big of a concern in cricket as it is in other sports and thus, the more cricket, the better – to an extent. Those fitness sessions happening now will become increasingly crucial as more and more games are played.

The first team start their season with a visit from Nottingham 1s, before travelling to Oxford Brookes a week later. Back to back home games against Loughborough (2s and 3s) in mid-May precede the season finale against Leicester 1s away from home on the 24th May. By that point the sun should be shining every day and exam season will be in full swing, it seems a world away from now. But it will be upon the cricketers in a flash. Months of physical, technical and mental preparation comes down to a spell of less than a month. But they will be ready.

The first team knows that a poor indoor season does not foreshadow struggles in the outdoor campaign. There is nothing that can replicate the conditions of cricket played on grass, in potentially suboptimal conditions for batters or bowlers. They want to put right what happened in Winter and come into Summer looking like an intimidating force. As the days get warmer, hopefully so will UoB’s cricketers, shedding their Winter of disappointment. And as the days get longer, hopefully so will their innings’.