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26th May 2012

Posted: 28th May 2012 | Category: Headmaster's Blog

‘Cricket lovely Cricket!”

What a glorious week!  The rain clouds disappeared; the pitches drained and the sun rose majestically in an azure sky!  Peter, our groundsman, began marking out the Rounders’ diamonds, the track for our budding athletes and rolling the pitches for the cricketers.  Summer had finally arrived!

Mr OC and I enjoyed our first proper coaching session with fifteen zealous players on Monday afternoon.  The 13 boys and 2 girls were as keen as proverbial mustard to master the basic techniques and enjoy this wonderful sport.  It was rewarding to see these intelligent sponges soaking up the coaching advice and visibly making progress.

Out poured the standard mantra:
“Foot to the pitch of the ball!”
“Keep that back foot planted!”
“Line and length!”
“Lean into the shot!”
“Hands together – double V!”
“The top hand is important –the bottom’s for guidance!”
“Brush that right ear!”

Later that evening I was chatting to the family about how pleased I had been with the coaching session and I suddenly had a flashback to my own childhood.  I reflected on my own cricketing career.

My first love has always been Rugby and my second…Cricket.

I started, apparently, on my potty!  My father would place me on my blue plastic throne about three paces behind the wicket whilst he bowled a soft ball at my brother aged 6.  As soon as my brother was selected for his school U11 team, I was hooked!  At every opportunity we played cricket: in the hallway; in the garage; on the landing; in the garden; in the park; in fact, anywhere at all!  The number of panes of glass that needed replacing was legion but Dad never minded (Mum did!).

At the age of 10,  I attended UCS Junior Branch and once a week we had nets with a MCC (not Mayfield Cricket Club the other lot!) coach – his name was Archie Fowler and he was one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever met and what a coach!

To me as a youngster, Archie presented as an aged fellow and at the first meeting all the U11 group wondered why the school had employed such an ancient chap.  He gathered us all together and coached us in the basics of bowling.  He capped his verbal presentation by bowling six balls at a set of unattended stumps – all six hit the stumps…we were truly impressed!

Archie (Archibald John Burgess Fowler) was a fine, orthodox, slow left-arm bowler.  He played for Middlesex and became the Head Coach at Lord’s, following in the footsteps of the illustrious George Fenner.  Archie helped Denis Compton and others to become great cricketers.  He loved coaching and was a Life Member of the MCC.  In his later years he turned to umpiring and as he slowed down made the transition to scorer.  He always smiled and always encouraged even when his tutees let themselves down!

I have certainly assimilated most of Archie’s coaching tips.  I know the theory but often the practice escapes me!

The importance of net practice and general practice in Cricket cannot be overestimated.

Alumni, Laura Marsh, who is now 25 and learned her Cricket first at Skippers, soon realised that practice does make perfect.  She won her place in the U9 team on merit and for six years she developed her skills as a right-arm medium pace seamer who would then shift to nippy little offbreaks to confuse the oppo!  She batted Number 4, 5 or 6 and was totally respected by her male teammates.  The time put into practice set her up for a professional career in Cricket.  The last I heard of her was in March where she had the best bowling figures for the England Women’s side: she bowled 10 overs with one maiden and took 3 for 28!  England of course beat the New Zealand side!

Back to coaching and nets!
To help my staff with the coaching at school, I am delighted to announce that Russell Wyatt, Ben’s granddad, who is a level 4 Coach will be working with our cricketers on a Tuesday afternoon.  Russell is keen to assist me in lifting the cricketing profile at the school and helping to embed excellent habits.  We are also looking into the possibilities of Winter Nets too.

Skippers has also become a major sponsor of the MCC – Mayfield Cricket Club not the other lot!  We have made a large donation to pay for the construction of Cricket nets at the club.  This will inevitably benefit the local community and, since many of my pupils are club members, they will benefit too!

On Friday evening, Fiona and I escaped from school and spent an hour watching a host of boys and girls enjoying Cricket and learning skills at the Mayfield ground.  The facilities are First Class and I met many current and former parents who were relaxing over a drink and watching their offspring practising in idyllic surroundings.

There is a super bar and I saw many adult visitors tucking into Salade Nicoise and  sweet and sour ribs, whilst the youngsters were dining on pizzas, burgers and chips!

See pictures from the evening here.

Mayfield has qualified coaches and an excellent infrastructure.  I shall be recommending the MCC to all my parents and friends.  They have a buzzing U6 section and, believe you me, the earlier they start the better!  Sessions on Friday run from 1800h till late!  If anybody reading this is interested in Cricket at Mayfield, contact Andrew Watson

“Cricket Lovely Cricket”

This calypso was written after the Windies won the test in1950 against England at Lords.
VICTORY CALYPSO – Egbert Moore (“Lord Beginner”)

Cricket lovely Cricket,
At Lord’s where I saw it;
Cricket lovely Cricket,
At Lord’s where I saw it;
Yardley tried his best
But Goddard won the test.
They gave the crowd plenty fun;
Second Test and West Indies won.

With those two little pals of mine
Ramadhin and Valentine.
The King was there well attired,
So they started with Rae and Stollmeyer;
Stolly was hitting balls around the boundary;
But Wardle stopped him at twenty.
Rae had confidence,
So he put up a strong defence;
He saw the King was waiting to see,
So he gave him a century.

With those two little pals of mine
Ramadhin and Valentine.
West Indies first innings total was three-twenty-six
Just as usual
When Bedser bowled Christiani
The whole thing collapsed quite easily;
England then went on,
And made one-hundred-fifty-one;
West Indies then had two-twenty lead
And Goddard said, “That’s nice indeed.”

With those two little pals of mine
Ramadhin and Valentine.
Yardley wasn’t broken-hearted
When the second innings started;
Jenkins was like a target
Getting the first five in his basket.
But Gomez broke him down,
While Walcott licked them around;
He was not out for one-hundred and sixty-eight,
Leaving Yardley to contemplate.

The bowling was superfine
Ramadhin and Valentine.
West Indies was feeling homely,
Their audience had them happy.
When Washbrook’s century had ended,
West Indies voices all blended.
Hats went in the air.
They jumped and shouted without fear;
So at Lord’s was the sceneryBound to go down in history.

After all was said and done
Second Test and the West Indies won!

As I finish this blog, England is playing against the Windies!  Strauss and Trott are  51 for 1 in their first innings in reply to the visitors’ score of 370 and I am off in search of a large screen!  I do believe there is a Sky screen at the MCC just up the road…
Toodle pip!

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