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School's out for summer

Posted in Recreational

School is over for the summer. My exams have finished so I can now concentrate on cricket.

My season for Catford & Cyphers has been irritating. Because of exams and other commitments, I have played only 13 games. I have scored just over 400 runs at an average of about 35.

There is more to come. I have a knack for getting to 30 or 40 and then giving my wicket away. As any batsmen will know, it is criminal to give your wicket away once you’re in and it is something I will strive to improve.

The most disappointing aspect of my season so far is my lack of runs for the 1st XI. Because I am playing for the highest ranked team in my club I know the challenge will be hard.

So far this season I have made a few 20s and 30s and nothing else. I have yet to make a substantial score. However, each week I am at my club’s brand new nets, opened by former England cricketer Derek Underwood, training on areas to improve my batting. I am still young and learning every time I go out to bat. I’m confident all my practice will begin to show in matches.

London Schools, which I now captain, have had a frustrating season.

We beat Eton College after I opted to field first on a pitch which seemed tricky for batsmen.

We quickly grasped control with our two opening bowlers taking wickets. Luke Remice and Wahid Ali bowled with pace and intent and we bowled Eton out for 127. During Eton’s innings Wahid managed to pick up a hat-trick and I also did well behind the stumps, taking five catches and a stumping.

With what seemed to be an easy enough target we set about chasing it down. My fellow opener and I got off to a good start and were on about 30 when he got out. Then Mitu Ahmed came to the crease and we put on a substantial partnership to almost see us home. I fell for 42, but with only about 20 runs needed, victory was almost assured.

Apart from a scatter of wickets towards the end of our innings everything went well and we left Eton with a three-wicket win.

Our next big match was against Cambridgeshire. For me it was an important match in two ways. Not only did I want to beat a minor county, but it was also my 16th birthday so there was extra pressure to win.

The game was played at Catford & Cyphers cricket ground – though the away team, Cambridgeshire, found it easier to locate than most of the London boys. Eventually we started playing 45 overs each.

I lost the toss. Surprisingly, however, their captain chose to bat on what looked to be a turning pitch. I opened the bowling with two seamers who got straight to work taking early wickets but occasionally leaking the odd boundary.

I then brought on two of my five possible spinners and straight away we could see it was a spinner’s wicket. Wickets began to fall regularly and Cambridgeshire were quickly five down.

Some middle order resistance helped them limp past the hundred mark. Then, with the ball slightly older, I called on the big turners of a cricket ball. They both bowled very well and ended up taking the last five wickets between them, bowling Cambridgeshire out for 157.

We got off to a steady start with the Cambridgeshire bowlers giving us very little to score off. Steadily, Ollie Hickford and I put on 30 off eight overs before I nicked off. Then wickets began to fall and the run rate began to increase.

What originally seemed like an easy enough target was becoming much more of a challenge. The only batsmen to show any resistance was Sam Packard. He, supported by the lower order, helped London edge closer to the target.

But with London looking like winning it, a flurry of quick wickets brought the number 11, Nick Friend, to the crease. By this time we needed five runs off 12 balls with one wicket remaining.

Sam managed to find three runs off the penultimate over and so it meant that Nick had to hit two runs off the last over. Four agonising dot balls whistled through to the keeper before Nick eventually broke through. He danced down the track and smashed the ball over cover to give London Schools the victory by one wicket with one ball remaining.

It was the best 16th birthday present I could have asked for.

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