The Harvard-Yale rivalry just got a little bigger.
Last Saturday, Yale played a collegiate cricket match against the Cantabs at Jordan Field in Cambridge. Although the Crimson soundly defeated the Elis in this Twenty20 match by 175 runs, members of Yale’s team say they saw the game as a learning experience for them.
The hosts batted first, running up a virtually insurmountable 249-run lead. Yale’s inexperienced batting order was unable to respond, eventually being bowled out for 74 and ending the three-and-a-half hour struggle.
“I think our inexperience showed in how we handled the conditions,” Yale co-vice captain Anand Khare ’15 said, adding that “it was freezing when Yale batted in the second innings.”
The Yale team did not come prepared mentally or in terms of attire for temperatures that were “near freezing,” Harvard cricket captain Ibrahim Khan ’14 said.
Four Yale cricketers interviewed said the team’s inexperience contributed to its loss. Both sides were allowed to pick graduate students for their team, and while Harvard’s XI included eight graduate students, Yale chose just three. The graduate students generally had more cricket experience, and some had played at international schools before coming to Harvard. One of Harvard’s grad students, for example, had played cricket at a high level for Cambridge University as an undergraduate.
Practice has been “irregular” in the past, captain Heshika Deegahawathura ’14 said.
“The team only used to play the local teams from New Haven and Greenwich as opposed to other collegiate sides,” Deegahawathura said. “If we can build links with colleges like Harvard and play more frequently, this program and our play will rise quickly.”
The goal for next year, according to all four Yale players interviewed, is to play under the sport’s national collegiate governing body, American College Cricket, or ACC. ACC is a national organization that oversees more than 60 university cricket programs and organizes both regional and national championships. Khan said that ACC has provided Harvard’s team with the opportunity to play more games and get more exposure.
Of the Ivy League, only Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and Penn are current members of ACC.
Yale’s players interviewed said the team is much more focused this year than last season. Khare noted that the team is practicing weekly this year, though it still struggles to get full attendance at its practices.
“Our two biggest obstacles now [are] the team’s inability to host games and, thus, get sufficient game practice,” the other co-vice captain Suyash Bhagwat ’14 said.
Yale cannot host games because the team lacks a cricket pitch or a cricket mat that could be used as a substitute.
“Once we play enough games, we’ll be eligible for ACC membership, and that leads to us being invited to regional tournaments like Harvard [is],” Bhagwat added.
Deegahawathura said that because Yale is not part of the ACC, it is especially important for the team to cultivate relations with teams at schools such as Princeton and Harvard to find matches.
“The game itself got testy at times,” Khan said, adding that both sides indulged in the game’s leniency towards trash talk or “sledging” as it is called in cricket. Khare agreed that there were points of tension, though both Khan and the Yale players said the competitive animosity subsided after the game.
The loss dropped Yale’s record to 0–1 this season, while Harvard improved to 5–0 after wins against Princeton, Williams, Boston University and Long Island University.
Correction: March 10, 2014
A previous version of this article and headline incorrectly implied that Yale’s cricked program was created around 1991. It also incorrectly stated that 2012 was the first time Yale had ever played Harvard in cricket.