University Challenge

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Okay, they probably wouldn’t be allowed to call it that but at least you can get an idea where I’m going.

The fact that there are selected universities that have First Class status doesn’t sit well with some people. In a bygone era maybe but now it just doesn’t seem appropriate. When universities take on the counties in pre-season friendlies the match-ups are seen as nothing more than average boosters for the professionals and possibly an opportunity to score a longed for double-century or take a seven or eight-wicket haul.

Cricket is trying to recruit players through inner-city initiatives as well as many other schemes and whilst the game should always strive to distance itself from elitism, that should mean nobody is discriminated against, this includes universities.

Silly Point proposes that rather than selected universities having First Class status, they compete for it. The honour and the prestige should be earned not a given. It’s a simple idea, a knockout tournament for which only the final has First Class status.

Currently six universities have First Class status:

Cambridge

Cardiff

Durham

Leeds/Bradford

Loughborough

Oxford

Based on size let’s throw in Birmingham and Manchester to make eight teams in total though I can’t claim to have researched their cricket facilities or infrastructure. This would provide a straight forward quarter-final, semi-final and final tournament format. Of course ideally the competition should be open to all universities nationwide so could consist of 16, 32, 64, 128 or 256 etc university teams at the first round stage. This would of course put demands on umpires and scorers and crucially ensuring that umpires of integrity are employed at every match. First Class matches do last three or four days so alternatively or run side by side their could be a One-Day or T20 tournament for which the final is provided List A or official T20 status.

Another crucial factor about the latter stages of the tournament and definately the final is that it should be shown on national free-to-air television. Click on a TV set and you might stumble across college basketball or football in USA. In England we get a boat race. Let’s celebrate this tournament and make it a grand day in the annual cricket calendar. A stellar performance in the final could earn someone a county contract or at least a trial or maybe even a short term deal in a global T20 tournament and from there who knows what could be achieved?

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