All MCCUs granted first-class status
All six MCC Universities have now been granted first-class status by the ECB after Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford joined Cambridge, Durham, Oxford and Loughborough.
Each of the MCCUs will play a trio of three-day fixtures against professional county sides in 2012, with first-class status conferred on the first two matches.
Eleven years after the MCCUs scheme began, Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford will begin their maiden first-class matches on March 31 against Somerset at Taunton and Surrey at the Kia Oval respectively.
Cardiff head coach Kevin Lyons said: “The announcement that Cardiff MCCU had been awarded first-class status for the first two matches against the counties in 2012 was received with great enthusiasm and much pride from all involved here.
“Performances and results over the last five years – winning 11 trophies including three MCC challenge finals at Lord’s – has been the reward of much hard work from a dedicated team both on and off the field.
“We look forward to the future with confidence and working hard to build on our established base of standards, but remembering the basic aims of the MCC Universities scheme, which is to develop the character of talented student players, whilst helping them move on to successful careers within the game."
This year the MCCUs acquitted themselves well in the 18 county games they played, securing 10 draws in addition to an historic victory by Cambridge over a Surrey side captained by Kevin Pietersen at Fenner’s in May.
MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said: “I am absolutely delighted that all six of the MCC Universities have been awarded first-class status next summer.
“Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford have been consistent performers and top achievers in the MCCU championship over the last few years, and it is very positive that this has been recognised and rewarded.
“It is also excellent news that John Crawley will join Cambridge MCCU this winter in a mentoring capacity. John enjoyed a superb professional career and played at the very top of the game for many years – it is now up to the players to make sure that they tap into his knowledge and experience.”
Crawley added: “I am really looking forward to working with the Cambridge MCCU squad. They are a talented group with lots of potential, and I can’t wait to get started.
"The life of a professional cricketer is the equivalent of living the dream. However, it can be short and unpredictable. Having a solid education for use within and after a career in cricket is a great luxury and one which the MCCU scheme makes possible.
“Cambridge played such a big part my cricketing development and now, with the active support of MCC, it is even more equipped to nurture sporting and academic prowess."