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Mrs Bethan Pickup, Parent

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Bolton School - Cricket Champions of England

Sunday, 09 September 2012

Bolton School has become the first school from the North of England to win the U15s’ ESCA/ECB T20 National Cricket Final with an emphatic 10 wicket victory over Whitgift School from Croydon.  

The final was held at Arundel Castle Cricket Club in West Sussex in the stunning setting of the grounds of Arundel Castle. Whitgift batted first and set a total of 133-8, their score being restricted by some fine balling from Matthew Parkinson who took 4 wickets for 17 runs. Bolton then comfortably reached 134-0, with Haseeb Hameed on 83 runs and Callum Parkinson on 41 runs. 

Mr Matt Johnson, Head of PE and U15 Cricket Coach in the Boys’ Division said: “The standard of cricket on the day was exceptionally high. The lads can be proud of how they represented the School and the Northern region, with both an outstanding team performance and impeccable behaviour.  These boys have rewritten our history books and the whole School celebrates their achievements.” 

The preceding day, Bolton School beat Shrewsbury.  The Midlands winners reached 154-8 and Bolton recorded a 7 wicket victory as they made 155-3, with Matthew Parkinson 87 not out and Ben Bowers 31 not out. 

Across the country over 1,000 schools entered the competition and, earlier in the summer, Bolton School became Northern Winners after overcoming Yorkshire winners,  Leeds Grammar School , in the semi-final and Sedbergh (Cumbrian winners) in the final at Netherfield Cricket Club.  Previous to that , Bolton won the Lancashire Cup at Vernon Carus Cricket Club by beating Parklands, St James, Little Lever, Lancaster Grammar School, Merchant Taylors and then Manchester Grammar School in the final. 

Below is a full report written by Mr Andrew Compton, Head of Cricket, that details the historic weekend. 

On a soggy June day, Bolton School U15 cricket team defeated Sedbergh School by 9 wickets to become North of England Champions and secure passage into the ESCA/ECB T20 National finals day at the picturesque ground in the grounds of Arundel Castle in Sussex on Sunday 9th September. 

Drawn against Midland winners Shrewsbury School in the first semi-final, we opted to bowl first and began nervously missing out on a number of catches which allowed Shrewsbury to dominate and build a threatening platform from which they could set a formidable total. They had upped the run-rate to eight an over before Haseeb Hameed made the vital break through. A couple of further wickets fell bringing new batsmen to the crease and this enabled the run rate to be checked and ultimately a modest total of 154 ( for 8 wickets) was posted. However, a disastrous start to our innings saw us 23 for 3 with key batsmen perishing cheaply and self doubt was beginning to paralyse our anxious supporters. Fortunately self doubt has seldom dominated the mindset of Matthew Parkinson and after a couple of cautious overs he launched a brutal counter-attack which saw him despatching the opposition’s bowlers to all parts of the ground in producing a magnificent innings of 87. Able support came from Ben Bowers ( 31) who also played some delightful shots as confidence and adrenaline began to flow. In the end the Shrewsbury total was passed with more than an over to spare as the partnership flourished to reach 132 and, for the first time in living memory, we had the opportunity to become national champions in a competition consisting of over 1000 participating schools.

Having defeated the South West winners Portsmouth GS, Whitgift School became our opponents in the final and they were the holders of the trophy. Captain Michael Brookwell won another important toss which enabled us to put them into bat and we gained an early success with Callum Parkinson claiming a wicket in his first over. Despite a flurry of boundaries, it was clear that their batsmen were less comfortable against the quality of our bowling attack as they hit the ball in the air and nearly offered a number of catching opportunities. Eventually the pressure to accelerate and their inability to use their feet to combat the leg spin of Matthew Parkinson(4-17) brought about their downfall and a spell of inspired balling aided by three vital catches ripped the heart out of their middle order and they were quickly reduced to 99-8 before a late revival rallied them to a more competitive total of 133 in their twenty overs. 

As Haseeb Hameed and Callum Parkinson strode out to the wicket in fading light, the weather began to close in and run rate considerations needed to be calculated. A cautious start was necessary after our semi-final innings but sensible shot selection and aggressive running began to give us the upper hand and boundaries began to flow to maintain the run rate higher than that of our opponents. Our batting was near flawless – hardly a chance given as the ball was caressed, tickled and smashed to all parts of the ground in equal measure. At 80-0 Haseeb crashed a good length ball through to the cover boundary and the opposition visibly wilted knowing that every delivery was coming off the middle of the bat. The partnership between Haseeb (83) and Callum (41) was unbroken as a straight drive for four ended the game to the delight of following support and the title was ours by 10 wickets– Champions of England. 

It had been a phenomenal effort made up of many richly deserved victories and many lessons had been learned about how to win as a team. As the team coach headed back north through the night Team Coach Matt Johnson, Head of Cricket Andy Compton and the squad succumbed to sleep after an emotionally draining day – it was quite appropriate that the sound system on our splendid new BSS coach was playing a Eurythmics song –Sweet Dreams Are Made of This!

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U15s ESCA/ECB T20 National Cricket Winners 2012

U15s ESCA/ECB T20 National Cricket Winners 2012

An unbeaten 83 runs from Haseeb Hameed helped secure victory in the final

An unbeaten 83 runs from Haseeb Hameed helped secure victory in the final

The team celebrates an emphatic victory

The team celebrates an emphatic victory