To be a sport at Oxford

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At Oxford, sports are inescapable and cricket is a rich tradition kept alive

John HoodJohn Hood
Vice Chancellor, University of Oxford

IT WAS A pleasant surprise – the world’s leading university partnering with cricket’s apex body in celebrating its centenary. Historically, sport has been integral to what we can describe as the Oxford consciousness. It is evident from a cursory glance at the list of our illustrious alumni, which includes, among others the hugely controversial Douglas Jardine, member of the ICC’s Hall of Fame, Sir Colin Cowdrey and the legendary CB Fry who holds a special place in the hearts of cricket lovers in India for his special friendship with the great Kumar Ranjitsinhji.

Men in white Students play a match of cricket at the lawns in Oxford
Men in white Students play a match of cricket at the lawns in Oxford

Little known is the fact that Oxford, which has been granted the status of an Official Pre-Games Training Camp Venue and aspires to be the base for an international Olympic team, has in its list of alumni 49 Olympic medallists. Again, it was here in Oxford at the famous Iffley Road site that Sir Roger Bannister first broke the four-minute mile. It is in keeping with this tradition that Oxford welcomed the opportunity of partnering with the International Cricket Council. Finally, our world famous Varsity Matches with Cambridge are events of considerable public interest. In 2008, the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race was watched by 7.6 million people live on ITV while 250,000 watched live on the Thames.

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1957

Frank Worrell
He became the first black captain for the West Indies

‘Racism has to end… and let the game of cricket be the beginning of it’
Frank Woolley

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Our interest in the ICC History conference amplified when we noted that the conference, for perhaps the first time in cricket history, brings together top cricket administrators, cricketers noted for their challenging and deeply considered reflections on the past, present and future of the game, leading commentators from the media, academic experts on the study of cricket, and leading figures involved in the curatorship of the heritage of cricket. From our standpoint, what we expect the conference to drive home is the point that cricket is a global phenomenon with an unmatched ability to unite peoples, nations, and continents in a spirit of both passionate competition and mutual respect. Throughout its history, cricket has been the most beautiful and compelling of games and a most sophisticated and sensitive lens through which to understand society.

Cricket has been the most beautiful and compelling of games and a sensitive lens through which to understand society

From a very personal standpoint, as Vice Chancellor, it gives me great delight to see this conference staged here in Oxford, having been personally involved with New Zealand cricket before my move to the UK. Hopefully, the conference will provide a strong push in enhancing interest in the study of sport across the world.

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