England and Australia for the Ashes. India versus Pakistan. Or the United States against Canada in international cricket’s oldest rivalry. These are among the most famous contests in our sport, but in the English Channel the big one is the annual Inter-Insular contest between Jersey and Guernsey (or ‘reds vs greens’).
Covid-19 prevented any chance of cricket between the two islands last year, but the Inter-Insular is set to return in 2021. Farmers’ Field in Jersey will host a three-match women’s Twenty20 International series on 24–25 July. This will be followed by the traditional annual men’s 50-over contest on 21 August. No men’s T20Is are currently scheduled, but further matches may be arranged depending on Jersey’s other international commitments. They are currently due to host a Challenge League event in September.
Traditionally two of the stronger Associate sides in Europe, both featured regularly in the now defunct World Cricket League. Guernsey hosted the European qualifier in 2019, and Jersey progressed from that event to reach the T20 World Cup global qualifier where they only missed the play-off stages on net run rate.
The cricketing rivalry between the two Channel Islands predates all of that, going back more than a century. While there is some confusion over the year of the first Inter-Insular match between sides representing the whole of Jersey and Guernsey (rather than clubs such as the Guernsey and Jersey Island Cricket Clubs), it is generally reported to be either the 1950 or 1957 match. The Inter-Insular match has since been played every year (apart from last year). The format has varied over the years but has been played as a 50-over contest in recent times. A women’s Inter-Insular match was first played in 2009.
Jersey enjoyed their longest period of dominance in the nineties, winning the contest ten years in a row from 1992 to 2001, including by a margin of 116 runs when they hosted at Grainville in 1994. The end of that run, however, signaled the start of Guernsey’s best spell of success as they claimed five consecutive wins and a total of eight from ten, the most notable being the last of these when they beat their rivals by 147 runs at the KGV in 2011.
2018-present: Addition of T20 format
The traditional one-day match was replaced by a three-game T20 series in 2018, won 3–0 by Jersey. The new format was retained for 2019, and was for the first time played as official T20 Internationals following the ICC’s welcome introduction of global T20I status. The women’s teams played a single T20I to get the festival of cricket underway, with Guernsey claiming the early bragging rights. Jersey’s men again won their 3–0 though, albeit the first of those requiring a super over to separate the sides. In August of the same year, the traditional 50-over match was revived – Jersey’s men picking up another win.
Unfortunately, travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic prevented any Inter-Insular cricket last year for the first time 1956 – Guernsey instead opened an ‘air bridge’ with the Isle of Man, who sent their men’s team for a T20 series). Overall, if we count from 1950, Jersey’s men lead the annual contest by 33 victories to Guernsey’s 20; plus their two T20 series wins. But who will come out on top when the rivalry resumes? And who will claim the women’s series? One thing for certain is that the return of this long-running rivalry will be very welcome.
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