Cricket does not just begin in the Summer Term, we have a very busy winter training programme which started upon return in September. We returned in the new academic year with a bang with several Sports Excellence cricket matches. Due to a number of leavers, this brought a lot of opportunities to younger and developing cricketers which proved to be of huge benefit. As always, the batting and bowling is rotated every game to provide data for the winter programme. This also enables us to see potential trialists for the 1st XI approaching cricket season. After our last cricket match the Sports Excellence cricketers moved onto a six week fitness programme to begin athletic development improvements for the Summer Term. Judo, jujitsu, military fitness, X-Country, stage combat and cricket related fitness helped to develop key components of fitness such as endurance, footwork and strength. It was great to see the new additions to the programme get stuck in and quite literally throw themselves around! From September through to April, all the Sports Excellence Programme cricketers were involved in various training programmes from early bird sessions, twilight training sessions, one on ones, group nets, batting and bowling clinics and the school’s Cricket Academy. As you can see, we keep our cricketers busy and is one of the reasons why we are in the top 100 cricket schools in the country.
This year’s Cricket Academy proved to be a success in many ways and continues to grow year on year. The Academy is for Year 5 through to Year 9 pupils which they are split into two tiers to make sure we cater for all ages and abilities. It is designed to push the players both physically and mentally but also provide them with an enjoyable environment that will prepare them as thoroughly as possible for the approaching season. The Cricket Academy is a stepping stone to the Sports Excellence Cricket Programme which starts at Year 9, and is by invitation only. As part of our Cricket Academy Programme we often have current or past professional cricketers run a session or two. This year we welcomed Tawanda Muyeye (Kent CCC) to coach both Tier 1 and Tier 2 cricketers. During our training sessions, Tawanda’s coaching focus was on bowling and all of our pupils learnt a great deal. Throughout the sessions we worked on all aspects of cricket from batting, bowling, fielding and wicketkeeping. Bearing in mind the ages of those involved in the Cricket Academy, three players scored centuries this year, which highlights the talent we have coming up through the school.
Throughout the winter the U13 and U15 girls trained and competed in the Indoor Eights competition which was previously named ‘The Lady Taverners’. This competition offers 8-a-side indoor cricket to secondary school girls with over 1,800 teams taking part. Our girls played exceptionally well throughout the day, and despite not qualifying for the Kent Finals Day had six weeks of winter training and several matches to help prepare them for the summer.
We continued to host our annual Junior Cricket Development event. Internal and external families were invited to join the Head of Cricket for an informative talk with refreshments in the morning, followed by a training session in the Sports Centre with Mr Simmons and Mr Jones. It was fantastic to be able to share with parents the many various cricket programmes that we run at St Lawrence College. It is important for parents to understand where their child is on our cricket pathway, where they want to get to and what it looks like to get there. This is one of many reasons why we are nationally recognised as being in the top 100 schools in the country for cricket. We are very proud of our inclusion and this achievement is testament to the hard work of Mr Simmons in particular, the Games Department, the dedication and encouragement of parents, and lastly, the effort and skill of every one of our talented cricketers. All school entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, which included a ‘compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, fixture programmes and coaching‘. Judges also took into account how schools kept the game alive after the pandemic, and how they work to ensure cricket remains a key part of school life.
As part of our ever developing sports programme, we also introduced an exchange programme with a South African school called St Benedict’s College for both rugby and cricket. In January for six weeks, our 1st XI captain Duncan Moore represented SLC whilst in Johannesburg scoring several half centuries and gained his Bennies cap for representing their 1st XI on ten occasions. We send over more cricket players in January 2024 and will look to maintain this strong link as it offers additional competitive cricket throughout our winter in preparation for our summer.
With regards to this year’s actual season, we had a lot of success. We finished with a boy’s win percentage across all teams of 61% and a girls win percentage across all teams of 64% which highlights the healthy balance of competition. We often play adult teams to stretch the older teams and to make sure we don’t just stick to our regular circuit and get used to winning too often. From the bottom teams to the top, the U12A XI lost in the U12 Kent Plate Final this year so was close to retaining the County title after last year’s U12’s won the competition. The 1st XI played 15 fixtures throughout the season against opposition such as MCC, Tonbridge School, King’s Canterbury, Langley Park School for Boys, Band of Brothers, and Sutton Valence to name a few. To give you a more in-depth example of where we sit amongst our competitors, we beat every private school on our circuit so currently we are certainly not only offering the best cricket programme, but also producing the better teams.
The girl’s 1st XI lost only one game and more amazingly, our U15 girls have now qualified for the National Finals which is on Monday 4th September. This is an amazing achievement as they are now in the last four schools in the country! With many of our girls also a year, and in some cases two years below Y10, we will continue to have a very strong side for at least another couple of years and with the programmes we have in place we will undoubtedly continue to push against the best schools in the country.
In the last week of term, we have our annual Cricket Week which is widely regarded as one of the highlights of the school’s calendar. Eight games in five days across several age groups and teams allows us to have a festival of celebration and schools come far and wide to play. We play three declaration matches, one 40 over match and four T20’s to finish of a very busy cricketing year. It is always someone’s first Cricket Week, and it is always someone’s last ever Cricket Week. This week allows us to give thanks to those (players, coaches, parents and sponsors) who have helped continue to support the cricket at St Lawrence College.
Lastly, the U13 cricket cohort went on tour to Birmingham and Nottingham. It was fantastic to offer new competition to our cricketers outside of our circuit and, after playing three clubs and one school, we returned undefeated. We want to be able to offer more than just training and fixtures; we want to offer tours, Cricket Weeks and various excursions throughout the year to help bolster the Cricket Programme at St Lawrence College.
Through a thorough annual winter training programme we have continued to have success with many pupils representing District, Kent County Cricket Club and above. We always cater for all individuals whether it’s their first experience playing cricket or if they are an established 2nd Class County cricketer hoping to gain a professional contract. We have had many Kent Cricket Academy Scholars in the last few years which is testimony to the programmes that we have in place.I am delighted that our Cricket Programme is renowned to allow all pupils to flourish. Cricket at St Lawrence College is in a healthy place, and I am pleased that I am able to pass the cricket over to Mr Geraint Jones (2005 Ashes winner) in such a position. We have lots of talent coming up through the school and, more importantly, we have lots of enthusiastic pupils who are enjoying their cricket.
(Head of Cricket)