‘I composed these lines when a summer wind
Was blowing the elm leaves dry
And we were seventy-six for seven
And they had C.B Fry.’
The Cheltenham College Cricket Festival is as synonymous as the Races and the Jazz Festival but the exceptional feature of College life is that the pupil body is privileged to play the game on such a beautiful and historic cricket ground.
The ground has seen some wonderful cricketing feats. The great Dr WG Grace took 12-73 in the 1872 Gloucestershire vs Surrey game and then in 1877 he took 17-89 against Nottinghamshire and promptly followed this up with the first ever triple hundred, 318 not out. Indeed, Wally Hammond set a world record that still stands taking ten catches in an innings by a fielder and as if that was not enough he then scored a ton in each inning against Surrey in 1928.
It is in the shadows of this cricketing history and superb setting that the modern College pupil is fortunate enough to learn the game. During the summer term the cricket club fields eleven sides in all of the major block fixtures and alongside this, there is also a girls cricket team.
The pupils follow a well - structured winter nets programme that takes place in the evenings of the Spring Term and this allows the cricketers perfect preparation for the Summer Term where they enjoy three sessions a week and a very competitive fixture list. The College XI plays in the John Harvey Cup against Radley College, St Edward's Oxford, Marlborough, Bradfield and Winchester College and in turn this provides the club with our main block fixtures. Alongside this, the College also plays the MCC, Sherborne School, Rugby School, Wellington College, King's Taunton and Clifton College.
Girls' cricket works very successfully within College’s games policy. Girls of all ages can play cricket in addition to the summer games and there is protected time for coaching and fixtures. All teams benefit with coaching from College’s Cricket Professional and as the club gathers momentum, there are out of season nets and a successful winter programme. The U15s won the 2015 Indoor Lady Taverners for Gloucestershire and went on to represent Gloucestershire in the South West finals. We will once again be entering a team into the competition which takes place in the Spring Term.
The Cricket Professional, Mark Briers (Worcestershire and Durham), has instilled a lasting ethos at College. Whilst the College has enjoyed real success over recent years it is seen as wholly crucial that the game is enjoyed by all, it is open to all and that it is played in the manner in which the legends of the game that have graced College Field would expect.
Mr Matt Coley
Acting Master i/c cricket