University of Leeds home to first-class cricket!
From next summer, Headingley won’t be the only home to a first class cricket team in Yorkshire; the University of Leeds will also be able to be added to the mix.
The University pitches, in the north Leeds suburb of Weetwood, are the home to Leeds Bradford MCCU, one of six University Centres of Cricketing Excellence in the UK. Each season the centre plays matches against county teams and from 2012 the first two matches each season against the professional teams will be awarded first class status.
Since 2005 the MCC has funded centres at Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Loughborough, Oxford and Leeds/Bradford where talented young cricketers aspiring to a career in the game can also further their education whilst receiving an unrivalled level of cricket coaching and match play. The Leeds Bradford MCCU centre selects the elite cricketers from fours local academic institutions – the University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University, University of Bradford and Bradford College.
Head Coach Andrew Lawson, himself a former first class player in his native South Africa commented; ‘This is a huge fillip for the centre and for the scheme as a whole. Our students receive a first class cricketing education so it is fitting that the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) have announced that our first two matches each season against county teams will now be given full status.’
The cricket facilities at Leeds Bradford are as good as at many county clubs. Lawson added, ‘Much of our indoor training takes place at Headingley Carnegie and for our fitness work we have access to some of the most advanced gymnasiums around at both at The Edge – the University of Leeds’s brand new state-of-the-art facility and at Leeds Metropolitan. Our playing programme through the summer is intense, but designed so the players also get the most out of their education. The scheme really works – around 20% of all contracted professional players involved in county cricket in 2011 came from MCCUs.’
Leeds Bradford’s own alumni who now play county cricket include Steve Patterson (Yorkshire), Will Porterfield (Warks & Ireland), Ross Whiteley (Derbyshire), Alex Blake (Kent), Tom Craddock (Essex), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Shaaiq Choudhry (Worcs), Harry Gurney (Leics).
‘In addition we have a number of players playing regular county 2nd XI cricket as well as women who are involved with the England set-up including Lauren Griffiths, Kate Cross and Beth McGregor’ added Lawson.
It is hoped that first class recognition will aid both recruitment and possible sponsorship opportunities for the centre. ‘Amongst all the other benefits, our first class matches will now be covered in the national press and on various cricket websites, so the extra publicity it will generate for our academic institutions and possible sponsors will be significant.’