English cricket’s brightest young prospects went head-to-head in a match of the highest quality yesterday when MCC Schools took on the English Schools Cricket Association (ESCA) in a fifty over clash at Lord’s.
Winning the toss and electing to field first MCC Schools were always in control of the match, restricting ESCA to 199 from their 50 overs, with Nick Kent from St George’s College starring with 4-46. St Bede’s School student, Callum Jackson, compiled an assured 50 from 89 balls for ESCA. MCC Schools were then set a rain-reduced total of 174 to win from 43 overs, and Taunton School’s Tom Abell struck an excellent 51 at the top of the order to lay the foundations for a successful run-chase.
Wilf Marriot from Radley College hit a run-a-ball 31 not out to win the game for MCC Schools, rounding-off an excellent individual performance at HQ, having already taken two wickets during the ESCA innings.
It was the third successive year that the fixture has been played at the Home of Cricket, with the honours previously even – ESCA emerging victorious in the inaugural match in 2009 and MCC Schools winning by five wickets last summer.
Both teams were introduced to MCC President, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, prior to the start of play, and the ESCA players were presented with a playing cap by England Captain, Andrew Strauss. Also on hand to offer coaching tips and advice to the young ESCA players was Cambridge MCC Universities all-rounder and two-time winner of the coveted Bunbury Scholarship Award, Zafar Ansari, fresh from playing in Surrey’s CB40 semi-final victory over Sussex the day before.
Commenting on the MCC Schools v ESCA fixture, MCC Head of Cricket, John Stephenson, said:
"I always look forward to watching this match – it is hugely exciting to see the wealth of talent coming through, and to watch first-hand the next generation of England stars.
"The fixture provides an ideal platform for the finest young cricketers in the country to get their first taste of playing on the hallowed Lord’s turf – where many of them will hope to return in subsequent years to play Test and First-Class cricket.
"Indeed, players from both sides should be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Essex’s Reece Topley, who played in the fixture last summer and returned to Lord’s this season to take five wickets against Middlesex in the LV County Championship."
The MCC Schools side comprised of boys picked for outstanding performances against MCC in the 280 school matches the Club played this summer. The ESCA team meanwhile was selected from the best performances at the 2011 Bunbury ESCA under 15s festival.
Since the first Bunbury Festival in 1987, 208 former ‘Bunburys’ have progressed into First Class cricket, and 60 have gone on to play for England – including current players, Alistair Cook, Ian Bell and Matt Prior.