UNDER 14 CRICKET TOUR TO WORCESTER
14 eager and excited tourists, including 3 year 8s, set off for Worcester in brilliant sunshine. the first game was en-route, against Kings School Gloucester, a school with a strong cricketing tradition. Despite the minibus protesting at any gradient over 4% we happy band arrived in plenty of time in the shadow of the intimidating Kingsholm allowing us the opportunity of ‘getting the journey out of our legs’ with a good warm up.
In glorious sunshine we won the toss and elected to field. Kings openers Swinley and Sleeman got the hosts off to a good start, sharing a partnership of 35 off 5 overs before Faisan Asif made the breakthrough. Kings put on a further 46 for the second wicket before Fin Hanna, playing a year up, had the dangerous Rall caught by De Glanville. Runs were slowing down and up stepped Louis Mann to clear up the middle order with some splendid spin that at times was unplayable. Beechen were finally set a to chase a total of 109 to win. There was also a further target set by the boys themselves to see if anyone could put a ball into the convertible Bentley continental rather optimistically parked at long on!
After a good start, led by Piran Gillow and ably supported by Tom Van Gelderen, we lost wickets at crucial times and began to fall behind the run rate. King’s fielding was first rate with runs hard to come by. A screaming catch at mid wicket and two direct hits kept the pressure on. As Sherlock might say, ‘the game was afoot’. Who would be the first to crack? In the event and rather unusually - no-one! Some big hitting from Ben Webb, and excellent running from Joe Grosvenor and Finn Hanna ensured the tail wagged and we had the rare situation of a tie! A fair result given the tremendous effort and talent both teams displayed. The match, played in excellent spirit and mutual respect, set the tone for the tour.
As the minibus set off for Worcester University halls, our accommodation and with the key objective now to arrive in time to watch England’s opening match of the world soccerball cup, Mssrs Mann and Sayers were dispatched to a Bromsgrove chippie (owned by a contact of Mr Mann, strangely enough) to collect the nights tea - a choice of fish and chips, pie and chips or burger and chips. The dinner of champions. The accomodation certainly exceeded the expectations of the two former students ‘of a certain age’. Not only were there no meters for the electric and hot and cold running walls, but each tourist had their own en-suite room in a flat of 7, with a sumptuous shared kitchen/living area with a telly. Best of all was a long hallway which would have provided an excellent strip for indoor cricket had the boys decided to play such a game. Which they obviously did not, as this would have been wrong.
After the disappointment of the football we all retired to our rooms for a shower and a good nights rest before what promised to be the most testing match of the tour, against Malvern college.
Again we awoke to satisfyingly clement weather with a full day of cricket awaiting - good job we were fortified by a full English and set off for the rolling Malvern hills and the stunningly beautiful Malvern College which seemed to be the blueprint for Hogwarts.
Malvern College are a cricket school - their first team pitch is overlooked by the main school building and is used only for cricket. Equally impressively, they play with their own gold monogrammed cricket balls and have a 30 meter circle marked out as well as the customary boundary. This game was likely to be a challenge.
And so it proved to be. A total by BCS that at best could be described as ‘modest’, the tourists managed to get themselves out as much as being bowled out. Malvern ran the total down with 5 wickets and 6 overs to spare. The boys of Beechen however looked on the positives – they were capable of competing at this level clearly, but needed to bat with a little more maturity and patience and tighten up in the field. This was the whole point of the tour – to learn and develop as players.
The early finish allowed us time to watch the Malvern first XI in a cup game. Every player at this level is a county or district palyer, with many at Academies. The standard was outstanding. All too soon it was time to get back to halls for a quick shower before popping across the river to watch the Worcester Rapids take on the Birmingham Bears (or Warwickshire as us oldies know them) in a local T 20 derby at New Road. Although the short game is criticised in some quarters as being ‘not proper cricket’ there is no denying the entertainment value and it was especially useful for the boys to see the field placings and standard of fielding and athleticism this version of the game demands. At the end of the game the boys met the players, walked on the pitch and took numerous selfies (as I believe they are called). Quote of the tour – ‘Sir can you take a selfie of me’? Tom VG, Fin Hanna and Lewis Bradley showed considerable resourcefulness by asking for a cap from a Worcester player as a souvenir and receiving a whole host of stuff – batting gloves, sweaters, playing shirts etc. A lovely gesture and it was great to see players enjoying the game.
Day three started in much the same way – full English (supplemented by the fruit buffet in case Mrs Sayers is reading this) and on to the fun bus for the short trip to Gloucester to play The Crypt Grammar School.
On a variable pitch Beechen made an excellent start with Piran Gillow scoring a rapid and technically excellent chanceless 55, supported by the classic stylings of Hugo Oxford, the broadsword of De Glanville and the maturity of Mann, Bradley and Marquis to post a seemingly unobtainable 130 off 20 overs.
The Crypt were, however, able to draw on two County batsmen who put on 62 for the3 first wicket and the run rate was equal to the tourists’. Euan Peers-Gibson made the breakthrough and he and Mann, bamboozling the new batsmen with guile and flight, took 5 wickets for 7 runs in this spell. Alas it was not enough. Some lax fielding gave up easy runs and Crypt hit 7 runs off the last 2 balls to, yet again, tie the game.
After a quick sandwich and the presentations, it was alas time to make our way home and reflect on the tour in our own ways and analyse what we had learned about our cricket and ourselves.
We would like to thank the boys for their impeccable behaviour and the wonderful way they represented the school, the staff and boys of schools we played for entertaining and looking after us so well, Mr Sun for putting his hat on all weekend, Mr Mann’s mate for the chips, Worcester Uni for looking after us so well, Noel Gallagher for writing songs that the whole bus could like, and Mr McDonald for organising such a successful trip away. We look forward to the next one!
Mssrs Sayers, Mann and McDonald.