Nick Taylor takes pride in leading Cambridge University Cricket Club in 200th anniversary year
Nick Taylor is excited about leading Cambridge University Cricket Club in a historic year.
The 23-year-old Clare College PhD student was elected last summer to become captain of the Light Blues for their 200th anniversary season.
It is perhaps fitting that opening batsman Taylor was selected for the honour given his ties to the city; he was a student at The Perse School, and has played club cricket for Waresley and last season in the East Anglian Premier League with Cambridge.
“They have records suggesting that the 1820s was the official start of Cambridge University Cricket Club,” said Taylor.
“It’s a great year to be lucky enough to be doing the job and I’m very excited for that opportunity.
“I had a bit of time over the summer to think about plans for the year.
“It’s quite an exciting year to work with some very good players we’ve got coming in. I’ve been quite lucky this year to have a very strong group of players turn up for trials in October.”
Postgraduates Neil Botha and Pieter Daneel will bring first-class experience from South Africa.
Botha is an off-spinner and Daneel a top order batsman, and Taylor said: “They are both unbelievably talented cricketers.
“Pieter played for South Africa In the Under-19 Cricket World cup in 2006, so is a little bit older.”
Batsman Max Montgomery is also studying at Cambridge this year, and has has played Premier League cricket in Auckland, where he was a contemporary of Taylor’s Cambridge club team-mate Kieren Mackenzie.
“Having that experience will be really good news for us,” added Taylor.
“Last year, we had a slightly younger team. Not inexperienced, but not that many older guys around.
“Having a few more senior postgrads who have played a good level of cricket should help a lot.”
It was a bright start to last summer for the Light Blues as they won the T20 Varsity Match at Fenner’s, but they went on to lose the One-Day Varsity Match at Lord’s and the four-day game on home turf.
It gave Oxford a 2-1 win in the series of matches.
“We stuttered batting a little bit in both of the other two Varsity games and that is largely down to Oxford having quite a strong opening bowling partnership,” said Taylor.
“Their captain this year, Toby Pettman, and their other opening bowler, Chris Searle, have both been in and around county second-team level.
“For our standard of cricket, they are pretty serious players so that was always going to be a difficult thing to come up against.
“Other than that, they had a very strong opening batter (George Hargrave) and he got 146 in the four-day game and that was out of a total of 290. Without that, they would be really struggling for a score.
“I feel like those bowlers and that batter made a difference last year, and unfortunately all three are still around for them.”
With the extra strength in depth this year, Taylor believes it will help make the series of matches a good contest.
“We’ve retained a lot of depth so most of the guys who played last year are still around, guys like Karthik (Suresh),” said Taylor.
“Alex Moen, who showed a lot of promise, hopefully with a bit more experience and cricket under his belt will be in a position to score a lot of runs this year.”
The Light Blues are heading out to Desert Springs in Spain for a pre-season training camp and nets in March, where they will be joined by coach Chris Scott.
He also oversees the MCCU team, which could feature a higher proportion of university players this campaign.
“Historically, in the last few years, the first-class games have had a higher proportion of players from ARU,” said Taylor.
“Last year, the split was two players from the University of Cambridge whereas this year it should be a bit higher than that, closer to 50-50.”
As for the 200th anniversary celebrations, the main event is set to be a Cambridge old and new versus Oxford old and new match at Fenner’s.
“It will be a Varsity feature at Fenner’s with a mixture of current players and former players invited,” added Taylor.
“It should be a really good event, and they will probably follow that up with a dinner to mark the occasion. I think there are likely to be various other dinners and drinks events that will be organised.”