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Wednesday, 05 August 2015
Former New Zealand cricketer, Iain O’Brien, was the star guest at the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy held at Bolton School. The week long cricket camp run by Activate Sport was boosted by a visit from the former Welllington, Middlesex and Leicestershire medium-fast bowler.
Fifty two boys and girls, aged from 5 to 14 years, from across the region enjoyed listening to O’Brien’s advice and coaching tips as he ran through a number of training sessions on the Bolton School cricket pitches and in the Sports Hall. The group then quizzed O’Brien on his life and career. He told the audience that he had started playing cricket at the age of six, spending a lot of time in the nets before starting to play competitively for a club at the age of 13. His dream at that age had been to become a PE teacher and he had also enjoyed playing softball, football, tennis, water-polo and rugby. He cited his parents as being the biggest influence on his career as they encouraged him and took him to all his practices and matches. He went on to play 22 test matches, 10 one day internationals and 4 T20 internationals, making his test debut in 2005 against Australia. His international career lasted until 2009 and saw him take 73 wickets. He finished playing professional cricket in 2012.
Reflecting on his own training, he said he had always practised very hard – up to 40 hours a week - but also knew when and how to rest up to recuperate and to make sure he ate the right food. Quizzed about the matches he played in, he said his best bowling figures were against the West Indies at home when he took 6/75 and he recalled hitting one six in a test match against Pakistan. He admitted that fielding was not the best part of his game and he said his favourite position was fine leg, where he could hide away! As he grew older and became less mobile, a spot in the slips was his preferred position. His favourite test match was against Pakistan when he played with a dislocated finger and still took wickets. When asked what cricketing moment he would like to re-live, he said this was against Pakistan when there was a noisy and intense crowd. O’Brien recalled his favourite wicket as being the scalp of Yousef that he took after 14 consecutive balls to the Pakistan batter. Players he admired as a youngster included Curtly Ambrose (West Indies), Alan Donald (South Africa), Glenn McGrath (Australia) and Martin Crowe (New Zealand). One of his favourite players to play with was Grant Elliot and his best cricketing friends outside of New Zealand were his Middlesex and Leicestershire team-mates.
The children were enjoying a fun filled week of cricket coaching, games and activities which includes the unique “Freddie Challenges”, small sided games, Cricket Olympics and World Cup Day. The Academy has been visiting Bolton School each summer since 2009.
Meanwhile, 35 local girls aged 7-14 years were also having a week of fun and learning new skills at Activate Sport’s International Netball Roadshow, which was held at the School, making use of the netball courts and Girls’ Division’s Gymnasium. The coaching programme was written by the England Head Coach Tracey Neville, who visited the School in the last academic year with the Girls Go Gold Conference.
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