Japan Cup Season Kicks Off
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No fewer than 31 teams across seven regions will take part in the 2018 Japan Cup T20 tournament.
The newest region to join in on the action is Tohoku, where Sendai Cricket Club will battle it out with Far Western at the picturesque Post Office Ground in suburban Sendai. There is plenty of interest in cricket in the Tohoku region so expect some competitive matches.
There will be five teams competing in the Kinki region again this year. The Osaka Raiders are early favourites to top the group but will encounter some stiff competition from new boys Kobe Hawks. Both Kyoto and Shiga-Kyoto are more than capable of springing an upset while Uenomiya contain plenty of talent and youthful enthusiasm. Matches will take place at the Kyoto Gakuen ground in Kameoka while Kinki eagerly awaits the completion of the new playing facility in Kaizuka, Japan’s newest city of cricket.
Surely it’s South Kanto that boasts the most competitive Japan Cup group. Eight teams will again take part in the South Kanto competition at the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club. Picking a winner is an impossible assignment but the Alpha Quashers carry the tag of favourites after going all the way to lift the trophy at the Japan Cup Finals series last year. Indian Engineers and Tigers will again be strong and the Wombats are as tough as old boots. British Embassy and YC&AC will try to use every ounce of their experience and expect both Keio Knights and Aoyama Gakuin to show substantial improvement from last year. Mouth-watering indeed.
East Kanto has expanded to six teams with the edition of the Nippon Tigers but matches will be played in Sano this year due to the current redevelopment of the Sammu Cricket Ground. Men In Blue are looking to make it three-in-a-row and it is hard to see who will knock them off their perch. Arch-rivals Tokyo Falcons will be nipping at their heals and Rising Stars are sure to put in some spirited perfoemances. Chiba Sharks and Tsukuba struggled to mount a challenge last year but can’t be discounted. Nippon Tigers will be an unknown quantity and might be capable of some surprises.
West Kanto often produces the most entertaining T20 cricket in Japan, spectators at the Showa Athletic Ground in Akishima regularly ducking for cover as sixes fly over the short boundaries. The Wyverns go in as favorites again but word is that the University XI will be putting out a very strong team this year. Akishima CC have a good mix of experience and youth while the Beans are more than capable of putting the wind up their opposition.
There has been plenty of drama in the off-season in North Kanto with several clubs falling off the radar, including last year’s champions Samurai. Could this mean that a youthful Sano CC return as a force in T20 cricket? They will need to get past the Ceylon XI, who will certainly be hard to beat. The two new teams to round out the North are the Tokyo Titans and Rakuten. It’s a tough assignment for a club to win a title in its first season but don’t bet against it in North Kanto this year.
Finally, Tokai will again host two teams at the beautiful Fuji Cricket Ground but there will be a slight change this year. After the mysterious disapperance of Fuji CC, the Nagoya Bengal Tigers will join Nagoya CC under the slopes of the mountain. The Bengal Tigers are a club on the rise but will have their work out against their experienced opponents.
The champions of the Kanto regions, as well as representative teams from Tokai, Kinki and Tohoku, will qualify for the Japan Cup Finals to be held, as always, in Sano. Lock in the dates of October 6th-8th to your calendars.
The Japan Cup officially kicked off on April 15th in Kameoka with the Raiders taking on the Hawks. Many more teams will be in action this weekend all across the country. Who will be the last team standing at the Sano International Cricket Ground in October? Keep up-to-date with results, news and league standings on the Japan Cup tournament page.