Tuesday June 25th 2019

The prison gates have been flung open and the inmates have escaped. Here we are in the third week of June and it suddenly seems as if the schools cricket season has just begun in earnest. Now that GCSEs are finished and A levels almost so, many schools have been liberated to play almost every day; even the sun is shining in many parts. The only problem is that the term is close to finishing, at least for the independent sector who have Saturday school (all schools do the same number of teaching days in the year). Indeed, I already have one return for Wisden from a well-known school in the North (ie their season has finished).

With the liberation, starting really at the recent weekend, there have already been some cracking games. The most thrilling was at Marlborough where the Master i/c reports that neither side played at their best (a bit rusty probably) but with one over to go, Cheltenham needed only two runs for victory – though with eight down – to overhaul Marlborough’s 222 for nine in 50 overs. At which point Christian Freeman took two wickets in three balls (both clean bowled) to snatch a dramatic victory from the jaws of defeat – contrary to all the norms of schools cricket, unless you were supporting Cheltenham.

A similar thrilling situation but with a different result occurred at Eastbourne, where the home side were chasing Bede’s 50-over total of 224 for eight. Eight were needed from the last over but with eight down, but Eastbourne squeezed home with two balls to spare.

For those unfamiliar with the XL club, the main qualification is (or perhaps was) that you have be at least 40 years old. When I was at school I rather assumed that they would not be very good, such is the complacency of youth. I sped in to deliver the first ball of the match which was summarily hit straight back over my head for six: it was Harold Gimblett, the formidable Somerset player.

Against the High School of Glasgow, the XL club declared at 218 for five after 38 overs. The school’s response was somewhat shaky at 34 for three at tea, after which the final 20 overs were called. The last five overs went for 50 but that did not quite get them over the line despite a splendid 113 not out from John Greene (only in S4 or Year 11) with 13 fours and two sixes. An exciting draw with the school finishing 14 short with five down.

It is not often that MCC get a declaration badly wrong but, smarting from the previous year’s defeat, the visiting captain chose to take up 62 overs against Denstone but offering the boys only 45 in return to overhaul MCC’s 271 for seven. The school did well to get even close (230 for three), led by J. Redman’s 104 not out, but such a tame draw was not a great advertisement for the declaration game.

Rather more following The Spirit of Cricket, Merchant Taylors’ (Northwood) had MCC in trouble at lunch on 114 for five, but the rains descended leading to a four hour delay and a heroic effort by the ground staff to get a re-start. MCC declared and a revised target of 148 in 20 overs was set. MCC bowled a couple of overs very much in the Spirit of Cricket, and the school won by three wickets with three balls to spare.

Merchant Taylors’ also won a keenly contested London final against Whitgift.in the National Schools T20 competition. Rohan Day led the charge in the powerplay for Merchant Taylors’ with a rapid 53 from 43, but then the Whitgift bowlers began to assert control allied to excellent catching and fielding, and it needed a spirited 29 from the final three overs to get to a respectable 135 for eight. Whitgift also started speedily, Nyeem Young leading the way with 30 from 19 balls before he was run out going for a second run, but by then Whitgift were well on target. Only 37 were needed from the final five overs and then 18 from three, with wickets in hand. The return of opening bowler Rohan Day led to a run-out and another wicket, and he conceded only four runs. Thus twelve were needed from the last over and, with two wickets falling in the chase Whitgift finished seven short. A thrilling area final. As so often happens, it was back to earth with a bump with a heavy defeat next day for Merchant Taylors’ by Magdalen College School.

If declarations are difficult for schoolboy captains as they nowadays play almost entirely overs cricket, then a two-day game is doubly difficult to get right. Rugby and Clifton managed it though. On an excellent wicket Rugby won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat. Progress through the morning and early part of the afternoon was somewhat measured and a declaration at 216 for four finally came when Archie Gibbs reached his century. Clifton responded positively but the score being 123-4 at the close of play there was little option but to bat on in the morning. This they did and with positive intent, coupled with a wonderful 131 by captain Dom Goodman, and eventually the declaration came shortly after lunch with Clifton 77 ahead. It was going to be a tall order to bowl Rugby out on a pitch which had become increasingly lifeless but when Goodman switched to bowling off-spin the innings turned on his head as he took four cheap wickets. Some crucial stubborn resistance from the Rugby tail saw Clifton requiring 107 from the final 10 overs of play to win the game, a tall order with no fielding restrictions. Clifton continued in the same positive way they had displayed throughout the game finally falling short by just 19 runs to draw the match.

Dauntsey’s completed their league programme unbeaten with a fine win over their nearest rivals Kingswood, winning the title for the third successive year. But in the National Schools T20 competition, despite having comprehensively defeated Wellington in the South Central final, they were unable to overcome the powerful Millfield side who (last year’s winners) again find a place at Arundel next Sunday (10am start, free entry and copious free car-parking).

Whether it was brotherly love or not, at Christ’s Hospital the Old Boys were led by last year’s captain Will Freeman with a Nelsonian 111, but helped to this total by his younger brother Gus dropping him on 13. Gus himself had scored a century in the fixture last year.

Results:

*Stowe 204-6, Bedford Modern 167-3
Nottingham HS 136 (20 overs),*Queen Mary’s GS 56
XL Club 218-5 dec.,*High School of Glasgow 204-5 (J Greene 113 not out)
Sussex Martlets 102,*Christ’s Hospital 103-4
St Albans 99, Merchant Taylor’s 103-4
Trent 78-7 (20 overs),*Oakham 82-0
Marlborough 222-9 (50 overs),*Cheltenham 221
Haileybury 272-1 dec (M Levitt 137 not out, J Timms 100 not out), Uppingham 85 (T Newby 5-12)
*Radley 105, Harrow 107-1
*Radley 252-4 (50 overs), Abingdon 224
*City of London Freeman’s 175-7 (40 overs), Christ’s Hospital 177-6
*Haberdashers’ Aske’s 194-9 (50 overs), Bancroft’s 103
Emeriti CC 216,*Ratcliffe 140
Bablake 96 (30 overs),*Ratcliffe 97-5
Bede’s 224-8 (50 overs)(T Muyeye 5-43),*Eastbourne 225-8
*Taunton 231, Clifton 232-3
Trent 165,*St Peter’s, York 169-4
Oundle 117, *Oakham 118-5
*Wellingborough 205-9 (40 overs), Nottingham HS 115
*Christ’s Hospital 128-5 (20 overs), Mount Kelly 105-9
MCC 211-4 dec,*Wellingborough 164-9
Northants Under 17 200-5 (35 overs)(??Basra 106), Stowe 131
Wiltshire Queries 234-8 dec,*Dauntsey’s 235-4 (J Grant 108 not out)
Harrow School 147, *St Edward’s 148-6
MCC 271-7 dec, *Denstone 230-3 (J Redman 104 not out)
*Monmouth 209-5 (40 overs), Colston’s 105 (S Swingwood 5-41)
*Stowe 143, Bromsgrove 144-7
MCC 223-5 dec,*Woodhouse Grove 98
Woodhouse Grove 266-6 dec (O Tennant 107),*Durham 138-5
Old Blues 262-7 dec (49 overs) (W Freeman 111),*Christ’s Hospital 233-6
*Repton 280-4 (40 overs), Warwick 205
MCC 114-5 (revised target 148), *Merchant Taylors’ Northwood 149-7
Magdalen College School 218-8 (45 overs),*Merchant Taylors’ Northwood 125
*Bradfield 258-9 dec, Free Foresters 244-9
Bradfield 299-8 (S Kendall 108 not out) (40 overs),*Reading Blue Coat 118
*Bede’s 243-9 (40 overs), All Rounder Academy 153
Wiltshire Queries 234-8 dec,*Dauntsey’s 235-4 (J Grant 108 not out)
*Kingswood 203-7 (40 overs), Dauntsey’s 206-1 (Monkhouse Intersport League)
Old Dauntseians 169,*Dauntsey’s 172-4
*Rugby 216-4 dec, (A Gibbs 100 not out) & 183, Clifton 293-9 (D Goodman 131) & 87-4
XL Club 168-9 dec,*Eltham 170-5
MCC 239-6 dec,*Eltham 143
*Colfe’s 177-9 (40 overs), Eltham 176-9
MCC 266-5 dec, Latymer Upper 115-7

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