Shenfield High School

                      Eastbourne tour a huge success

Shenfield’s Cricket Academy embarked on their pre-season tour to Eastbourne after a long winter of training. The 14 boys and girls travelled down to the South Coast looking to find some form for the hectic season ahead. The tour was due to see them play East Dean and Friston on the Sunday, Brighton University and Eastbourne College 1st X1 on the final day. Also amongst the games was a guided tour of the University of Brighton and some inter academy competition.

On the drive down to the ‘Sunshine Coast’ the skies became darker and heavier, with rain starting to fall. As we reached our destination the heavens opened and for the next 4 hours it refused to relent. A decision was made at 13:00 to call the game off with the pitch 2” under water, meaning both remaining games were in doubt. However with local contacts to hand the squad were taken to the University for 2 hours of Badminton and basketball competitions. With the game called off early, the accommodation venue really paid dividends. Indoor tennis courts were booked for the afternoon and the players had access to top quality facilities including; Gym, Squash, Sauna and Swimming pool to name just a few. A miraculous turn around in weather saw the sun appear in the early evening and the covers were removed from the wicket. Some of the boys helped to cut and roll it to ensure Monday’s game would go ahead. With the news filtering back to the players that the game was almost certainly going ahead, the mood lifted and spirits were high. An enjoyable evening was had with the squad going out for dinner before coming back for an early night. The morning of the first game was upon us and the weather was set fair. After a strong breakfast and a productive team meeting the team set off for East Dean. On arrival it was clear the ground was still saturated, however the wicket ends that had been covered were dry and playable. Great praise must be given to East Dean CC for covering the wicket and allowing the game to still go ahead, despite the wet conditions.

The game started on time with Shenfield CC winning the toss and electing to bat. It was clear from the start that the pitch was very slow and that patience was going to be key. Greg Larkin thought otherwise playing an expansive drive 3rd ball only to be caught in the covers with Ballington then being run-out after a suicidal second run.  With the score on 25-2 the game was finely poised, Potticary was then dropped after only making 10. This would prove to be a costly mistake as he went on to make 37 and put on 70 further runs with the impressive Mahmood.

The scoring rate was steady throughout with one short boundary meaning that anything slightly short was severely punished. Mahmood was playing nicely, slowly getting to grips with the difficult pitch as he saw partners come and go. Parmenter was adjudged LBW before he and Hickey put on 80 for the 5th wicket. Hickey fell trying to up the run-rate as Mahmood was nearing a well-deserved century playing some sumptuous drives and cuts. He fell 10 short after a ball stuck in the pitch and disturbed his stumps, with this the innings came to close with the Academy 228-8 in their 45 overs.

The Universities response got off to the worst possible start as they found themselves 2-3 with Parmenter (2-2) the chief destroyer. A partnership was then formed between the classy looking Denning and the effective Horne. They particularly enjoyed the short boundary on one side with Horne striking some lusty blows. Savery (2-16) and Rickenbach (3-23) bowled excellently in tandem, both recording economical figures. The game finished with the Academy recording a comfortable victory by 68 runs. MOM going to the impressive Mahmood after a gritty 90 in difficult batting conditions.

After their impressive performance the squad went out for dinner before coming to back for a swim and Sauna. Alarms were then set for a 7:30 gym session in preparation for the biggest day of the tour. All squad members enjoyed a solid hour and 15 minute work out before breakfast and then a team meeting. Rooms were checked out, minibus packed and the squad set off for their personalised tour of the University of Brighton. There was a good buzz around the team as we arrived for our 10:30 tour and the weather promising for the afternoon. Our tour was taken by the head of QTS Jon Binney and as ever he didn’t disappoint. After a brief tour of the impressive facilities, a mini lecture was held that included a Q&A session. To finish the morning Jon led a 45 minute practical session that was based around a module taught at the university. The topic was street surfing, an activity that none of the group had heard or done before. The 45 minutes flew past with plenty of comical video footage eagerly captured by Mrs Villiers.

The session ended and the team made the very short trip down to the prestigious Eastbourne College. The boys were greeted by the Master of Cricket Matt Banes who escorted the boys to dinner hall. We were served a 3 course lunch including Salad bar and a live kitchen, hospitality at its finest. The boys then began their warm up on the main college field in front of the prestigious college building. This setting could only enhance the team’s performance and that is exactly what it did.

After a long warm up and a brief meeting, captain Parmenter won the toss and elected to bat on what was a very damp wicket. Shenfield got off to the worst possible start losing the out of form Ballington for 1. Mahmood (16) joined Larkin (24) and both looked in good touch before losing their wicket to the impressive Twine.  At this point the game was evenly poised with the score 72-4 after Parmenter was early on a ball that stopped in the pitch. A partnership was required to ensure a competitive total was set with Potticary set and looking dangerous. Hickey (14) joined and together they put on 67 before falling in the deep trying to up the rate. By this time Jack was smashing the ball to all parts of college field and moving closer to only the 5th ton in Shenfield School Cricket history. The magic moment came in the 24th over courtesy of a punched drive through the covers, his 100 came in 56 balls and included 9 sixes and 7 fours. A quite brilliant performance that rocketed his side to a strong total of 190-9 in the allotted 30 overs.

The reply started very strongly for the home side with the opening batsmen scoring at 5 an over. The stand stood at 74 before the impressive Rickenbach (2-16 off 6) was bought on in the last over of the powerplay. He bowled a hugely impressive spell with great control of line and length. Together with skipper Parmenter they began to wrestle  control of the game. Hickey was then introduced with his leg spin and the batsmen began to take a few risks. Just as the game was finely balanced the hugely impressive Mady Villiers (pictured) was bought on at what initially looked like the wrong end. With a short boundary one side punishing anything of line she would have to bowl well and bowl well she did! Her final figures of 4-25 were nothing short of superb and she certainly raised a few eyebrows as she steamed in. Any preconceptions of a girl playing 1st team boys cricket were soon dispelled as she showed what a talent she is. I have no doubt that she will go on to great things and will thrive in our cricket academy next year. As the game drew to a close the Shenfield boys showed their commitment and drive to win, celebrating every wicket. Jack Potticary capped his memorable day with a smooth stumping off Hickey and the winning line was in sight. Mady finished the game off bowling Eastbourne's number 11 to wrap a fantastic 49 run win in the glorious south coast sunshine. The team left the field and kept a great deal of decorum after what was an unforgettable afternoon. Much gratitude must go to the College for their incredible hospitality and welcoming nature, a rematch is certainly on the cards. The bus ride home was a jubilant one with coach Sapsford leading the Shenfield sing along.

A fantastic way to end a really worthwhile and enjoyable tour in which all of the players equipped themselves brilliantly. A great start to the season and proof that the long hours throughout the winter have really paid off. Academy Director Richard Abson-Bennett remarked 'It was great to take the guys and girls to my home town, a lot of people were really impressed by the teams talent and enthusiasm for the game. Let's hope this kicks starts our season and it makes the squad realise that hard work and dedication really do pay dividends.'