Conference seasons for Yale’s fall varsity teams are just getting started, but one Ivy League title is already up for grabs this weekend in New Haven.
For the first time ever, the Yale club cricket team is hosting its league championship, a three-team round robin event between Yale, Harvard and Penn. The three squads, which qualified due to their match results from 2015–16, will battle it out on Saturday and Sunday, with Yale seeking to win its first-ever Ivy League title.
“This is a really big deal,” said team captain and president Mrinal Kumar ’18, who is also a staff columnist for the News. “Even though it’s early in the season, it’s probably our biggest weekend of the season, so that’s why we’re so excited about it. [Winning the championship] would be the biggest accomplishment in the history of Yale cricket.”
The format of the championship, which will be held at the intramural fields, is a three-team triangular in which the team that goes 2–0, or the team that wins a tiebreaker if necessary, goes home with the title. After the championship, every match the cricket team plays will essentially set up for the 2017 tournament.
Last year, the event was held at a neutral site in Schenectady, New York. Yale finished fourth out of four teams, losing to Harvard, which ended up winning the championship.
Interestingly, one of Harvard’s best players from last season’s team, Manik Kuchroo MED ’20, is now a medical student at Yale and will get to face his former team this weekend. Kuchroo is one of the most dominant players in the Northeast, having previously played for the Delhi Under-19s and captained the American College Cricket team.
“It’s going to be a little confusing,” Kuchroo said. “I played for four years, I was captain for the last two. I know all [of Harvard’s] strengths and weaknesses so I’m hoping to exploit them.”
Although Harvard defeated Yale at last year’s championship, the Bulldogs defeated the Crimson in the most recent match they played last spring.
So far this season, Yale has played just one match, a loss to MIT, but the players expressed confidence in their chances going into this weekend.
“I think the fact that we’re actually hosting is a huge boost for us because we’re expecting a good turnout,” Abhinav Menon ’18 said.
In addition to the home field advantage, Kuchroo said that this year’s Yale team is the strongest the Bulldogs have ever had. Kumar said the sport has grown significantly over the past five or six years, one main reason for the increase in talent.
Currently, the team has 30 players on its roster, consisting of both undergraduate and graduate students. The team does not have a coach and is entirely student run. As president and captain, Kumar is not only responsible for making strategical decisions such as the batting order before matches, but also for duties such as scheduling matches and setting up practice. The team practices twice a week for two hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
On average, the Yale cricket team plays 15 to 20 games per year, usually against Ivy League schools but also against other teams in the Northeast, such as the University of Massachusetts and Boston College. There are also over 20 local club teams in Connecticut that the Bulldogs can face off against.
“We play whenever the weather is nice, pretty much from the beginning of September to the end of October,” Kumar said. “In the spring we start playing in March and early April through the end of [the school year].”
Yale faces Penn on Saturday at 2 p.m. The cricket variation of “The Game” will take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Crimson.