College cricket scene set for an exciting finale

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This week sees the final games of the 2014 inter-college cricket league take place, and there is still a lot to play for across all divisions.

Worcester are leading the top division with 110 points after having played six games. They are followed closely by St. Catz with 95 points, which makes the last games of the season ever more important. However, last week saw the top of the table clash washed out, with both teams taking 11 points after rain stopped play. In fact, all matches in 6th week were cancelled due to rain; a striking similarity to last year’s cricket season.

Third and fourth place are not far behind the top two, with Balliol and Keble both on 92 points. St. John’s are fifth with 82 points, leaving a 28-point gap between themselves and sixth place Christ Church. As such, tight points margins at the top are ensuring an exciting end to the season.

New and Queens line the relegation zone though, with New on 43 points and Queens on 34 points, after five games each. New College have had a disappointing run in the league this season, but more than made up for it by beating Brasenose in the Cuppers final back in 6th week. New partnered with St. Hilda’s for the Cuppers tournament, and sent a star studded side into the competition. The Cuppers tournament is usually much more competitive than the league as the college teams manage to put out all of their cricketing blues. In the final, New/St. Hilda’s set a target of 179, despite a shaky start in which both of the opening batsmen were dismissed for just 60 runs after 20 overs. They managed to pull it back in the second 20 overs though, and pushed the game just out of reach of a strong Brasenose side that couldn’t quite chase down the total.

Merton shares the leadership of Division Two with Pembroke, with both teams on 99 points from six games. The two teams are set to clash on 16th June (8th week), in what is likely to be the title decider. Cuppers finalists Brasenose reside in third place on 77 points after five games, which means they are still in with a chance of promotion.

Hertford and Teddy Hall, tied on 88 points from five matches, top Division Three. Wadham follow closely, on 83 points. Although the bottom dvision, it is home to a plethora of strong teams, with Hertford boasting three university players.

As far as the strongest sporting colleges go, Worcester is one of the only colleges to see its reputation reflected in its position in the league. The cricketing talent is spread fairly evenly between the top and bottom divisions. This is not the case for many of the other inter-college sports, such as football, where the qual- ity of football varies much more amongst the divisions. The strength of individual colleges changes each year as new players move in and finalists begin revision in Trinity term.

The Cuppers tournament showed how teams from any division can succeed; Division Two colleges have size as their advantage, with a much higher chance of fielding University level sportsmen and sportswomen in their teams. Hertford is thus an anomaly in this sense. The key to a successful Cuppers run is to encourage the top players to contribute to their college team, as most tend to focus on University training and the BUCS leagues during the term.

To turn to the reserves, the larger colleges, and a host of MCR sides, dominate the second XI leagues. Wolfson-St. Cross lead division one, taking 66 points from four games. Worcester are second with 62 points from four games.

With all to play for, college cricket teams enter the last two weeks of the season. 7th week has seen the Authentics (Oxford University 2nd XI) travel to Cambridge to compete in their T20 Varsity match, as well as the historic Turl Street clash of the titans between Jesus and Exeter. Going into the game, Jesus are sitting in 6th place in Division Two, on 60 points, followed by Exeter in 7th place and with 58 points. Both teams had played six matches prior to the fixture, which gave each team even more to play for. Hopefully the sun will stay out then, and we will see the title decided on the pitch.

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