Excitement is building as Oxford MCCU’s season draws nearer and with it first-class matches against Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Middlesex, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
The clash with Warwickshire on April 7-9 will see England batsman Jonathan Trott play at The Parks in his first competitive match since he returned home from England’s disastrous Ashes tour in November due to a stress-related illness.
Oxfordshire and Banbury batsman Lloyd Sabin, who will captain the 50-overs side this season, believes Oxford won’t be daunted by the strength of their opposition.
He said: “I think it’s just a good opportunity to compare yourself to the highest levels.
“Last year we went close to beating Warwickshire and obviously we’ve got them again this year, so hopefully we can go one step further and win a first-class game against them.”
Sabin top-scored with 50 in that match as Oxford were narrowly beaten by 21 runs, and is keen to impress again, as is Scottish batsman Freddie Coleman.
The 22-year-old signed for Warwickshire after graduating from the county’s Academy last year, but will face his employers for Oxford just weeks after returning from a pre-season tour of Barbados with the county.
“Either team I play for, there’s going to be an earful from someone,” he said.
“But it will be great to have Warwickshire down in the Parks, so we can show off to them how good MCCU standard is and how competitive we can be.
“This is as much a professional set-up without that title as it is with the county. The guys here are training as much as the pros are, are as fit as the pros are and are as strong as the pros are.”
Head coach Graham Charlesworth feels the first-class matches will act as a good benchmark for the players.
He added: “We have a number of guys in the squad who are currently playing professional cricket and a number who are aspiring to play professional cricket, so those games are an opportunity for them to measure themselves against some of the best players in the country and see where they are.”
OXFORD MCCU FIRST-CLASS FIXTURES
April 1-3 v Notts; April 7-9 v Warwickshire; June 9-11 v Middlesex.