24th May: Mumbai Indians v R. Royals, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
The pupils at Long Close School in Slough are crazy about cricket – they live and breathe the sport, and this enthusiasm has led to significant success in recent years.
Most schools are lucky to produce one or two county players at representative level, but this current season the small Independent School in Berkshire has six county players and two district players amongst its pupil body.
Head Teacher, David Brazier, who has an infectious enthusiasm for the great game, undertakes the cricket coaching. David joined Long Close six years ago and remembers his first cricket season at Long Close when the teams hardly won a game.
David embarked upon regular after school clubs throughout the year to coach the boys and Cognita, who own the school, invested in outdoor cricket nets. The PTA helped with the purchase of a bowling machine and the cricket has gone from strength-to-strength ever since culminating in an incredible cup run for the Under 12 tem last season where Long Close were eventually beaten by Reading Blue Coat school, a huge school with four times the amount of pupils to pick from, in the final. On this run Long Close defeated all the other Under 12 teams in Berkshire including Clares Court and all the local Grammar schools. Throughout all age groups, under 7 – 13, Long Close won 95% of all their matches last season - an impressive achievement!
Crawford Wilson in Year 7 is Berkshire under 12 Captain who also keeps wicket and opens the batting for Long Close, the Harris twins, George (leg spin) and James (opening batsman and bowler), play for the Berkshire Under 11 age group and George is also Captain. They play in the same team as Thomas Weiss, a fearsome fast bowler, who has just won a major sports scholarship to Millfield School, Somerset. In the under 10 Berkshire age group Long Close have Raghuv Kanwar and Rhianna Heer a female cricketer – gender being no bar to playing in the school teams – if you are good enough, you play! Finally, the Middlesex District players are Diraj Khuller and his brother Rohit who also play there local cricket for Uxbridge.
Last season there were many fine performances, but Diraj was the pick of the batman scoring well over five hundred runs, his knocks against The Beacon and Edgebarrow school were explosive and destructive and resulted in easy victories for Long Close. James Harris despite only being in Year 5 played in the under 12 and 13 teams and averaged only 2.7 runs for every over he bowled, an extraordinary economy rate! Highlights were beating Davenies twice and the Beacon by 10 wickets, as well as the Cup Run mentioned earlier.
The Long Close success is built on hours of practise. Pupils come in for extra sessions during the holidays and the older players help to peer coach the younger ones. In the Summer term after school clubs and nets take place three times a week and there are two matches a week. Long Close also runs the Holland Cup 10/Ten Power-play cup competition, named after former Headmistress Wendy Holland and a cricket tour of Somerset where we play against and stay at Chilton Cantello another Cognita School.
David Brazier believes that Cricket can make the world a better place and Long Close with its multicultural empathises reflects this, as pupils from all religions, cultures and backgrounds the game they love together, forging their passions in the crucible of contest and learning that the team is always bigger than the individual!
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