Has the weather we’ve had so far ruined sport this Trinity? Yes, yes it has. Well, that’s certainly the case if you subscribe to the view that summer sport is synonymous with sunny afternoons spent at one with balls and a crease.
Aside from the impact of the weather on tennis and croquet, this term’s cricket has been decimated by the rain, hence why I am writing this instead of reporting on a game. At an academic institution of such high esteem as Oxford one might assume that the summer term is a time reserved for revision and exams. Not so for those that have spent the Easter vac toiling in the nets perfecting their slower ball or dreaming of a glorious half-century on a balmy Tuesday evening. Cuppers has been ruined by coin-tosses and bowl-outs. This farcical institution is a by-product of the British weather, dreamed up in a bid to be able to settle cricket matches that are tied, or have fallen victim to rain.
I haven’t played any cricket this term. Sure, the Blues have played a bit. But sport at Oxford is about so much more than the top-level representing the university. So much money is spent on the upkeep of college grounds, and yet college cricketers have as yet been unable to showcase their unquestioned ability to display their admittedly extremely average cricketing ability.
I’ve just heard the expected bad news from our groundsman that unfortunately due to the build-up of rain over the last few weeks, the mid-afternoon flashflood that turned into a short hailstorm has rendered the ground more suited to an aquaplaning contest than me trundling in and bowling some quite tame medium pace against the very best that the St Peters 2nd XI have to offer. But that’s what summer sport is all about. The rain is denying a whole host of distinctly average sportsmen their moment in the sun (literally).
It’s hardly a tragedy in the grand scheme of things. But for those of you that are holed up in the library and those that couldn’t care less, then at least enjoy the fact that it is the second year arts students with nothing much else to do that are ‘suffering’ the great injustice of seeing their sporting summer being a wash-out.
Let’s get the obvious arguments out of the way first. I enjoy cricket as much as the next man. As with many second-team stalwarts my game’s modelled on a slightly lessened Chris Harris, or possibly Glen Chapple without the flair. An early summer deprived of college cricket is indeed a potential nightmare, and certainly a term lessened. But a term ruined? I wouldn’t say so.
Before now I’d have thought that cricket was the alpha and omega of summer-term sporting hijinks. If nothing else, a few weeks as Cherwell Sports Editor during this rain-clogged Trinity has taught me that there’s a multitude of sport that endures while the clouds open. Rugby’s commonly perceived to stop after Cuppers final, but there’s been as much played so far as there was with last term’s freeze-offs. With three well-contested tournaments at Iffley in as many weekends, there’s been plenty for sportsmen (and women, mixed touch sevens was a comprehensive success) to be happy about.
That’s not all, either. Mixed hockey cuppers has been picking up steam, with a bit more attention and commitment than last year, and this weekend looks set to provide a festival of hockey, regardless of the weather. With the semi-finals on Saturday and the final on Sunday, anyone with a yen to watch some sport should head down to Iffley this weekend.
It’s impossible to entirely escape cricket though. Much as all the above is true, I can’t wait to get back out there. So the best I can say is to drag out that old saw about absence and the heart growing fonder and hope that in a week or so the sun’s going to come out alongside my batting form. Trinity term is far from ruined, but even putting sport aside for a moment I’d be the last to hope the weather continues. It’d mar those post-finals weeks for one thing, when all the third years want to do is sip Pimms, punt and play croquet (the Trinity triple-whammy of clichés, each one of them conformed to).
So Trinity hasn’t been ruined. There’s plenty else to do, and it might mean we’ll enjoy the cricket and the sun all the more when they arrive. But it had better be a matter of when, not if, and it had better be soon. Otherwise, it’s just not cricket.