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Each fortnight, SCAN brings you an exclusive inside peek at one of our fantastic sports clubs. Read about what they get up to, and get the latest on how they are representing Lancaster in competitive sport around the country. This issue, Viraj Bhatia tells us all about Cricket Club.
Captain, Viraj Bhatia told SCAN, “In my opinion, the Cricket Club is one of the best clubs simply because of how close each member becomes to each other during their time at University. Personally, my closest friends are from the club and I can safely say that this is the same with most of our members.”
What makes Cricket Club unique is that they are always encouraging people to join and learn the sport, even if they haven’t played before. For them, having three teams isn’t enough. It is also about giving each member an experience that will last a lifetime. They work hard to get everyone involved, and dedicate sessions to people who just come to learn how to play. For example, this year an American exchange student, Chris Donovan, joined the Cricket Club in the hope of taking a new experience back home. Bhatia believes he has been one of the club’s most improved players this year: “having not known how to hold a bat, he now knows every rule and even takes part in full training sessions”.
Last year wasn’t one of their best years as a club. Having lost their coach, the club was without one for the whole season and this put a lot of pressure on the previous captain, Pete Barnes. This showed in their results, as they didn’t apply themselves on the pitch and finished third in their BUCS league. They also unfortunately lost to York at Roses.
However, this year has brought about a change in attitude in the Cricket Club. They are looking to get promoted this year and nothing is being taken lightly. Specialized sessions are being organized on a weekly basis to focus on individual skills and fitness. Their season begins in April and the boys are putting in a shift already, so there is a lot to look forward to this year. The team is shaping up better this year, because captains have been announced a year in advance, whereas in previous years, captains would be announced only two months before the season. This caused difficulties as the President had to run sessions until then. Now, captains have the whole year to think of different combinations for games and can even organize friendlies to test players. The first, second and third team captains are Bhatia, Jerome Martill and Harry van-Boyd respectively.
This year, Cricket Club has had a record number of freshers join, from over five different nations. This shows their diversity as a club. This has automatically increased competition in the club and the standard has improved. The preparation for Roses 2016 is already underway, considering it will be their second game of the season. The club considers it extremely important to win this fixture, after losing convincingly last year. The boys are hoping to make the University proud, and welcome all the support they can get.
Cricket Club’s strength as a club lies in the fact that they are a close-knit family and everyone trusts each other. Automatically, everyone helps each other in order to improve the team as a whole. Despite not having a coach last year, the boys stuck together and made the best of the situation. Barnes helped everyone with batting, Sam Dyson and Danny Edwards helped the bowlers and Joe Bridgland took charge of the fielding unit. Before captains were announced, all old members chipped in to help previous President, Freddie Hammond run trainings.
The club’s weakness lies in the fact that their matches are during exam period. Therefore very rarely can they put out their strongest eleven. Unfortunately, the club doesn’t have an outdoor training facility like the other teams in the league. This doesn’t help their fielding because certain drills cannot take place indoors and this fielding inexperience shows in games. However, they are discussing with the University about potentially getting an outdoor facility.
They train Monday and Friday for two hours every week in the Sports Hall. This year, they have focused more on fitness and fixing the technical errors from the beginning to ensure they are ready for the season to begin in April.
Socials are an important part of Cricket Club, as everyone is close to each other. The social secretaries for this year are Ste Wilkinson and Adam Senn, and the club pride themselves on their particularly innovative socials. For example, the famous ‘Kashish Social’, in which members enjoy a ‘family’ meal together. The boys, if willing, take part in a hot vindaloo challenge to see who can survive the hottest Indian food and even finish in record time. They also do joint socials with the Women’s Cricket Club, emphasizing that they are one big family. The club has a regular weekly newsletter, in which someone is picked as ‘Stroker of the Week’. This is basically someone who has done something outrageous or embarrassing in the week.
Bhatia is proud that, “we do have some very good players at our club and picking one particularly good player is very tough. However, Sam Bradshaw is one of our ‘silent assassins’. He is someone who can deceive you with his smile. Not always in the headlines for his strokerish behavior, he is very consistent on the field and takes wickets for us on a regular basis. He ended up being our highest wicket taker last year. Hopefully, he can carry on that form this year, and with the return of our fastest bowler, Andrew Zimmer, lead this club to promotion and Lancaster University folklore.
“I am very proud to be Captaining this bunch of boys, as they are not only talented Cricketers but also the nicest bunch of people I have met. Captaining them is not a task but an honour. I know that I am true to this club and want us to succeed and sometimes people may not be happy with certain decisions I make but it is only to help us do better as a team. My best moment so far would be my first win as a LUCC member. We beat Manchester seconds and Barnes got a 100 and Ben Gittins got a 50. Bradshaw took five wickets and led us to victory. Hopefully, this club can grow from strength to strength and can be compared to the likes of Loughborough and Durham one day. That is the dream, that is what we are working towards and sooner or later, we will get there.”