Tuesday May 9th 2017

This column inevitably tends to highlight outstanding performances with bat and ball (mostly bat) but usually unmentioned is the fact that wherever huge scores occur, it is almost invariably a very dull contest. The side batting first (almost by definition) rattles up an enormous score which the second side never gets near to matching. A rare exception a couple of years ago was Malvern v Millfield, where both sides scored over 300. Probably the most spectacular, a few years ago, was Solihull v Nottingham High School, where 408 for five played 401.

However, look down these results below and it seems as if most of these games were pretty one-sided. Either the team batting first made a decent score and the second came nowhere close; or the second side easily overcame the target set. I’d like to claim that declaration cricket is always more exciting; more often than not it is, because anybody who understands real cricket knows that a delicious element of the declaration game is that in order to win you often have to risk losing. A subtlety that eludes enthusiasts for the overs game, especially professional Twenty20 matches (designed for the spectator who neither knows nor cares about cricket as long as there is lots of big hitting).  Big Bash indeed. Alas, most schoolboys – with rare and admirable exceptions – have little experience or understanding of the finer arts of declaration and tend to play safe, thus killing the game, as happens all too frequently in the overs format. For example, in the first kind of game mentioned above, had it not been within the straitjacket of the overs format, the batting side has to declare if they want to win; in the second kind, the first team has often simply run out of overs, but if they been allowed to bat on a little longer it might have been a good contest. Not to mention the possibility of a bowler bowling more than 10 overs in a match; 10 overs per match are simply not enough to learn how to bowl properly (which may account for some of the huge scores).

Nevertheless, there is creeping back into schools cricket the recognition that boys (and girls) need to understand different types of game, especially “proper cricket”. Who will go to Test matches in the future if young people have no idea what is going on? Why aren’t they bashing it everywhere? Huge scores may be lovely for the marketing department, but they do no good for the development of young players as cricketers who are learning to understand and love the game in all its subtleties. Not least, it does no good in a game dependent on confidence for young players to be hammered out of sight.

Happily there were some gripping games (highlighted in the results): Woodhouse Grove, a strong school who won the National T20 in 2014, found themselves in the unusual position of being 27 for six at the hands of Bradford Grammar School. However, they gradually eased themselves back into the game (maybe the bowler doing the damage had to be taken off under the regulations) and scraped to 170 for nine thanks to Adbi Ahmed (66 not out) and a 15-year-old New Zealander Samson Sola (48) with an eighth-wicket partnership of 87. Against this distinctly modest target, Bradford started well at 46 without loss but the left-arm spin of Ali Ahmed started to make inroads and they were dismissed for 137.

Even more thrilling was the contest between Culford and Gresham’s where 205 all out played 203 all out. This was described by the Master i/c at Culford as “without doubt the best school cricket fixture I have ever watched: it ebbed and flowed both ways all day”.
Culford, put in, were soon one down. Max Whittaker and Freddie Allum started a mini-revival but it was not until Matt Mitchum came to the crease at 73 for two that things really improved. Power hitting saw Mitchum race to 50 off 38 balls including six sixes and five fours. He left to a cracking slip catch by Aaron Bullent, one of his three for the day, and Culford were struggling at 169 for nine. Alex Cruickshank and Charlie James then put on 36 for the last wicket but finished seemingly some 30 runs light at 205. Gresham’s, with about 71 overs to bat (proper cricket) got off to a good start, Hudson DeLucci and Billy Buckingham progressing steadily until Culford introduced spin at 74 for one, and the game took a sharp twist. Jess Walters and Freddie Allum, both part-time off-spinners, bowled with great control and just enough turn to trouble most of the Gresham’s batters, though DeLucci passed 50 off 80 balls without being troubled. Wickets kept falling, though DeLucci remained defiant and the game was evenly poised at 105 for 5. A flurry of wickets from Allum including a superb one-handed catch, brought Culford back in the game and indeed on top. The strong Gresham’s team at 160 for nine seemed doomed. Kieran Douds, however, had other ideas and lasted 31 balls, batting at number 11, for 0. Hudson reached 100 off 150 balls, a superb knock – control and guts mixed in with powerful, clean striking. Unfortunately for him, though, he was left stranded on 108 as Arran Dhesi came back in to the attack to remove Douds for a 32-ball duck in a partnership of 42, just three short of an improbable victory.

Another close encounter featured Warwick and Abingdon. Replying to Warwick’s target of 169 for five in their 40 overs, Abingdon made a spirited reply but fell short by seven runs (162), the last wicket falling in the fourth ball of the final over. In another close 40-over contest, St Albans rattled up a healthy score of 243 for five, led by captain Charlie Scott with 107. But Queen Elizabeth’s Barnet were equal to the challenge and with Kevin Van der Geest reaching 80 and Shahil Sheth 54, they finished 13 short with seven down. A game which would probably have been more thrilling had it been a timed game, as the fielding side would have had to tempt Barnet to get even closer and hence perhaps give away wickets.

Sutton Valence (199 all out) versus Sevenoaks (165 for nine) would also have been quite a thriller – can they save the match? – had it been a declaration game (but it wasn’t so it was probably quite dull). Bedford Modern did have a thriller in the School Sport magazine Under-17 cup match against Hitchin boys’ school, the former reaching 116 for eight but Hitchin falling short by four runs to finish on 112 for nine.

Having been asked to bat first, King Edward’s Southampton set a solid platform of 85 for one off 23 overs with Jovan Dhariwal (year 11 opener) looking in particularly good form. Bryanston finally turned to their experienced slow bowlers in the 25th over, with left-arm spinner Frank Turrill (three for 39) and leg-spinner Alex Chetwood (five for 54) both bowling well. However, the excellent Dhariwal (95) supported well by an aggressive knock from Greg McKenzie (46) and a late flurry from Jameel Khan (19) and Archie Millar (11) ensured KES reached 251 all out in the 50th over. Bryanston lost Max Trueman second ball of the innings but then a 103-run partnership between Owen Morris (41) and Harrison Clarke (55) ensured they stayed ahead of the rate. Wickets either side of tea very much halted the momentum, and the left-arm spin of Greg McKenzie (three for 32) supported by the seam bowling of James Gaunt (three for 51) began to dry up the runs as well as take vital wickets. Bryanston’s final effort came from an excellent 48 from number 7 Alex Sands along with a 27 from Alex Chetwood which took the game down to the wire. However, Bryanston were finally bowled out for 238 in the 50th over. It was an excellent game of cricket played by two strong sides with great spirit between the teams. 489 runs and twenty wickets, both innings going to the final over. As Greg Wallace might say, schools cricket doesn’t get much better than this. KES deservedly won the day.

The unseasonably dry weather (cue thunderstorms) means that the National Schools Twenty20 competition has proceeded far further than is usual at this stage of term, with most areas nearing their finals. Merchant Taylors’ (Northwood) have already won the North London section and will play the winners of South London. Cranleigh face Tonbridge in the South East, no doubt with some confidence after a good win against the same opponents in their 50-over match on Saturday (scores below). [Misplaced, added later – Tonbridge beat Cranleigh in a tight final]. Sadly, the wretched exams have taken their toll with some schools having to withdraw even in the second week of May because of pressure from SMTs and parents. You can’t revise all day, every day, for goodness’ sake! It’s bad psychology anyway (read “The Psychology of Study” – an excellent straightforward guide). Click to see the current state of the National T20. .

Results:

*Haberdashers’ Aske’s 150-7 (20 overs), Chigwell 65 (A Lakhani 5-12)
Lord Wandsworth 164-7 (30 overs),*Christ’s Hospital 166-4
*Shrewsbury 144-6 (30 overs), Wrekin 119-6.
Tiffin 286-6 (45 overs), *Emanuel 141 (J Odreda 5-44)
*Emanuel 120-5 (20 overs), KCS Wimbledon 88-9
*Shrewsbury 3rd XI 144-7 (20 overs) (G Chaplin 103 not out), Queen Mary’s GS 104-9
*Solihull 117-7 (20 overs), Queen Mary’s GS 118-4
RGS Worcester 270 (50 overs) (C Turner 102, M Leatherdale 5-53), *Warwick 117
MCC 297-5 dec,*Clifton 237-8
Poole GS (25 overs) 110-7,*Clayesmore 113-5
MCC 226-4 dec,*Marlborough 227-3 (B Mead 126 not out)
*Harrow 177 (J Wheeler 5-36), Hampton 179-4
*Hampton 264-4, Dulwich 159 (W Christophers 5-47)
*RGS Worcester 218-5 (30 overs) (C Turner 101), Hereford CS 64
*RGS Worcester 206 (B Lander 5-34), Monmouth 88
Sir Thomas Rich’s, Gloucester 73 (J Hazelgrove 5-32), *Bristol GS 77-0
Stockport GS 186-7 (40 overs), *Cheadle Hulme 188-4
Glasgow Academy 214-6 (30 overs),*High School of Glasgow 83
MCC 191-7 (40 overs), *Bede’s 192-4
Oakham 179-5 (20 overs),*Stamford 80
XL Club 254-6 dec, *Ratcliffe 167-5
Cranleigh 187-5 (20 overs),*Charterhouse 101
XL Club 133-9 (35 overs), *Framlingham 134-1
*Wellingborough 142-4 (20 overs), Leys 144-6
*Cheltenham 207, St Edward’s 208-1 (B Charlesworth 112 not out)
Ryde 56-9 (16 overs), *Bryanston 57-0
King Edward VI Soton 251 (50 overs) (A Chetwood 5-54),*Bryanston 238
*Monkton 195 (40 overs), Wiltshire Queries 199-4 (J Williams 101 not out)
*Kingswood 175-6 (40 overs), Monkton 64
*St Lawrence 191-9 (35 overs)(I Dilkes 100), Eltham 192-5
*Durham 231 (I Ukpong 7-20), Ashville 85
Cranleigh 306-8 (50 overs),*Tonbridge 118
Wellingborough 252-9 dec, *Stowe 185-6
*RGS Worcester 206 (B Lander 5-34), Monmouth 88
*RGS Worcester 218-5 (30 overs) (C Turner 101), Hereford CS 64
Sherborne 186-9 (50 overs), *Cheltenham 142
The Yorkshire Gentlemen 197-5 dec,*St Peter’s,York 201-3
*Ampleforth 133, St Peter’s,York 134-4
*Canford 211-1 (35 overs) (M Daubeney 108 not out), Clayesmore 167-6
*GSAL (Leeds) 244-6 (40 overs) (E Litvin 142), Hymers 174-9
Trinity 263-9 (50 overs) (D Johnsen 103 not out),*St John’s Leatherhead 213
Eastbourne 356-7 (50 overs)(C Edwards 114),*Brighton 53
Haberdashers’ Aske’s 259-6 dec, *Felsted 208-5
Sussex Martlets 215 (B Caldera 101),*Eastbourne 203
*Sutton Valence 199 (35 overs), Sevenoaks 165-9
Prior Park 172-5 (40 overs), *Dauntsey’s 174-6 (Monkhouse Intersport League)
*St Albans 243-5 (40 overs)(C Scott 107), Queen Elizabeth’s, Barnet 230-7
*Bedford 255-8 (50 overs), Oakham 258-1 (S Wolstenholme 120 not out)
Shrewsbury 224-3 (50 overs)(J Crawley 118 not out),*Repton 101 (P Clark 6-19)
*Bristol GS 108 (20 overs), South Glos & Stroud College 112-4
Warwick 169-5 (40 overs),*Abingdon 162
*Bedford Modern 116-8, Hitchin 112-9 (School sport magazine Under-17 cup)
*Bedford Modern 269-4 (40 overs), Akeley Wood 84
Wellingborough 252-9 dec,*Stowe 185-6
Abingdon 130-5 (20 overs),*Stowe 132-3
MCC 241-8 dec,*Stowe 242-7 (T Olsen 101 not out)
Winchester 101 (50 overs), *Bradfield 104-1
Bradfield 128-7 (20 overs),*Wellington (Berks) 125-8
*Woodhouse Grove 170-9 (50 overs), Bradford GS 137
*Culford 205, Gresham’s 203 (F Allum 6-69)
*Haileybury 90 (F Tucker 5-19), Leys 94-1
Eton 252-9 (50 overs), *Marlborough 235
King’s Taunton 238-9 (50 overs), *Clifton 214

National Schools Twenty20 competition (cumulative)

North East section group 1
*Silcoates 61-8, Worksop 62-0
Birkdale 108-9, *QEGS 112-4
*Silcoates 126-7, Birkdale 131-2
Worksop 152-6,*QEGS 146-6
Worksop win the group.

North East section group 2
Pocklington 166-6, *Hymers 123-9
Woodhouse Grove 114, Pocklington 114-8
(Pocklington win by losing fewer wickets)
Woodhouse Grove 125-7, Hymers 70
Pocklington win the group.

North West play-offs
Birkenhead 158-5, Manchester GS 151-6
Birkenhead 136, King’s Chester 135–7
Birkenhead now play Sedbergh or Bolton

North West section group 1
Merchant Taylors’ (Crosby) 140-7, King’s Chester 142-3
King’s Macclesfield 173-8, Grange 88
Grange 143-6, Merchant Taylors’ 148-0
Kng’s, Chester 120-8, King’s, Macclesfield 104-7
King’s, Chester win the group

North West section group 2
Birkenhead School 290-2, Wilmslow HS 48
Birkenhead School 237-2, Liverpool 50
Birkenhead win the group

North West section group 3
Bolton 203-1, *AKS Lytham 121-8
*AKS Lytham 244 -4, Kirkham 220 – 6
Altrincham GS 91, Bolton 95-1
Bolton win the group

North West section group 4
Manchester GS 185-4, Stockport GS 111-5
Audenshaw 72, Cheadle Hulme 73-0
Audenshaw 160-7, Stockport 129-8
Cheadle Hulme 84, Manchester GS 86-5
Manchester GS win the group

North West section group 5
Sedbergh 235-3, Myerscough 114-9
Sedbergh 195-5, Lancaster RGS 97
Sedbergh win the group

East section group1
*Trent 186-3, Nottingham HS 107-8
(others still to be played)

East section group 2
Oakham 99-9, *Oundle 95
Stamford 101, Oakham 105-3
Oakham win the group

East section group 3
Stowe 146-8, Rugby 150-1
Stowe 131-6, LGS 134-2
Rugby 168-7, LGS 120
Rugby win the group

East section group 4
*Kimbolton 125-6, Wellingborough 129-2
*Bedford 174-4, Wellingborough 106-7
Bedford win the group

East section group 5
The Perse 92, *The Leys 95-1
Felsted 160-4, The Perse 154-8
*The Leys 188-5, Felsted 141
The Leys win the group

East section group 6
Gresham’s 69-8, Norwich 70-4
Gresham’s 138-3, Framlingham 141-2
Norwich 175-5, Framlingham 152-7
Norwich win the group

East section group 7
Shenfield 174-6, 113-6
Ipswich 171-8  Brentwood 123-8
Shenfield 100-2, Ipswich 96-8
Shenfield win the group

West Midlands and Wales section group 1
Wyclffe 37, Dean Close 38-0
Monmouth 155, Llandaff Cathedral 133-6
Dean Close 113-5, Monmouth 114-4
Monmouth win the group
Dean Close runners-up

West Midlands and Wales section group 2
Malvern 149-5, RGS Worcester 150-4
Bablake 94-6, RGS Worcester 98-2
Malvern 188-4, Bablake 75
RGS Worcester win the group
Malvern runners-up

West Midlands and Wales section group 3
Wolverhampton GS 126-6, Wrekin 114-8
Bromsgrove 166-4, Wolverhampton GS 133-4
Wrekin 107, Bromsgrove 109-1
Bromsgrove win the group
Wolverhampton GS runners-up

West Midlands and Wales section group 4
Shrewsbury 176-3, Oswestry 67-6
Ellesmere 109 (Owens 5-12), Newcastle Under Lyme 113-1
Shrewsbury 157-7, Newcastle Under Lyme 55-8
Shrewsbury win the group
Newcastle Under Lyme runners-up

South East section group 1
Bede’s 126, *Eastbourne 127-3
*Eastbourne 140-6, Brighton 102
Bede’s 115-7, Aldridge Cricket Academy 94-8
Eastbourne 127-3, Bede’s 126
Eastbourne win the group

South East section group 2
Cranleigh 175-6, *Reigate GS 90
Cranleigh 207-2, St Lawrence 62
Reigate GS 166-3, St Lawrence 125-9
Cranleigh win the group

South East section group 3
Claremont 107-3, Ashford 91-8
*Hurstpierpoint 161-4, Claremont 137-2
Hurstpierpoint win the group

South East section group 4
Tonbridge 242-6, Kent College 52
*Tonbridge 235-4 (J O’Riordan 121), Simon Langton 100
Tonbridge win the group

South East section semi-finals
*Tonbridge 163-8, Eastbourne 119-7
Hurstpierpoint 118-9, Cranleigh 121-3

South East section final
*Tonbridge 128-7, Cranleigh 123-6
Tonbridge now play the winners of the London section for a place on finals day at Arundel

North London section group 1
UCS Hampstead 95,*Merchant Taylors’ 98-1
Aldenham 141-7, Forest 144-6
*Merchant Taylors’ 214-2, Forest 118
Merchant Taylors’ win the group

North London section group 2
*St Albans 183-2, Bancroft’s 163-7
St Albans win the group

North London section final
*Merchant Taylors’ 150-6, St Albans 132-7
Merchant Taylors’ win the North London section and now play the winners of South London

South London section group 1
St Benedict’s 82-8, Whitgift 85-1
Whitgift 192-5, Reed’s 163-6
Whitgift win the group

South London section group 2
Dulwich 178-8, Caterham 131-6
Caterham 142 -6, Eltham 135- 8
Eltham 130-6, Dulwich 134-2
Dulwich win the group

South London section group 3
Epsom 124-7 Hampton 125-5
Trinity 179-5 Langley Park 126-8
Trinity 156-6 Hampton 103
Langley Park 105-5, Epsom 106-2
Trinity win the group

South London section group 4
*Wilson’s 73-7, KCS Wimbledon 74-3
*KCS Wimbledon 167-5, Kingston GS 142-7
John Fishers withdrew
KCS Wimbledon win the group

South West section group 1
Clifton 156-8, Downside 74
(others still to be played)

South West section group 2
Bristol GS 108, SGSC 109-4
Bristol GS 112-9, Taunton 116-5
(others still to be played)

South West section group 3
Mount Kelly 148-3,*Clayesmore 95
Mount Kelly 178-5, Blundell’s 182-5
Blundell’s 84-9, King’s Taunton 85-1
(others still to be played)

South West section group 4
South Dartmoor 81-9, Sherborne 83-2
(others still to be played)

South Central section group 1
*Oratory 133-6, RGS High Wycombe 137-5
Radley 160-4, RGS High Wycombe 161-3 (E Casterton 109 not out)
Radley 179-4, Elizabeth Guernsey150-6
RGS High Wycombe win the group

South Central section group 2
St Edward’s 154-4, Abingdon 107-9
Magdalen College School 211-5, Reading Blue Coat 70
*St Edward’s 128-5, Magdalen College School 106
St Edward’s win the group

South Central section group 3
Wellington (Berks) 198-6, Dauntsey’s 93
Wellington (Berks) 93, Bradfield 94-1
Lord Wandsworth 91-9,*Bradfield 92-4
Dauntsey’s 153-6, Lord Wandsworth 130-8
Bradfield win the group

South Central section group 4
Portsmouth GS, 174-5,*Winchester 130-8
Portsmouth GS 153-6, Marlborough 145-7
Marlborough 147-3,*Winchester 111-5
Portsmouth GS win the group