The first recorded mention of cricket at Uppingham School came with the lease in 1827 of a stretch of land alongside Seaton Road, which later became known as The Upper. Although interest was strong the success of cricket (and the School!) was to grow immeasurably under the pioneering Headmaster, Edward Thring, who arrived at the end of 1853. Under his leadership cricket blossomed and he appointed Uppingham’s first resident full-time cricket professional, H.H. Stephenson, captain of the first English cricket team to tour Australia in 1861-62. This appointment proved a turning point for the game at Uppingham. Interestingly it was an Old Uppinghamian who funded his appointment, C.E. Green, one of the first Rovers (the Old Boys’ cricket club). These eminent shoes are today filled by Trevor Ward, ex England A, Kent and Leicestershire cricketer.
Greatest of Uppingham’s cricketers was A.P.F. (Percy) Chapman. In 1919 he was selected as one of Wisden’s Five Public School Cricketers of the year. He went on to play for Cambridge University, Kent and England (26 tests, 17 as Captain between 1926 and 1931). A famous picture, taken in 1930, shows him wearing a Rovers blazer when tossing the coin with Bill Woodfull, the Australian Captain. He scored 925 test runs (av. 28.90 including one century and five fifties), and held 32 catches, most of them in the gully, where he was a brilliant fielder – very much ‘the Jonty Rhodes’ of his era. In all first-class cricket he scored 16,309 runs (av. 31.97, including 27 centuries and 77 fifties), held 356 catches and took 22 wickets with his occasional bowling.
Other cricketing alumni include James Whitaker and Jonathan Agnew. Although they did not enjoy extended runs in the national team, both had fine careers for Leicestershire and remain active in the game. James has managed A team tours and is currently Chairman of the England Cricket Selectors, whilst ‘Aggers’s’ voice is familiar to cricket lovers the world over as part of the Test Match Special commentary team. More recently Shiv Thakor, captain of cricket at Uppingham in 2011/12, played three further seasons of first-class cricket for Leicestershire CCC until he signed for Derbyshire CCC in 2015.
Today, the School continues to fields a mass of enthusiastic cricketers with 12 teams regularly representing Uppingham throughout the summer term. The 1st XI still play all of their home matches on The Upper. There are a further seven cricket squares available and these are used for both training and matches. There are also 19 grass cricket lanes giving Uppingham’s cricketers the best possible opportunity to train for match situations, with indoor nets also available in the sports hall at the School’s sports centre. The cricketing experience is further enriched with the opportunity to tour abroad, with recent destinations being Dubai (2010), India (2013) and Sri Lanka (2016).