What a result – we could not be more proud of our U13 and U15 cricket teams who are now both national champions. On 23-24 May, the two teams competed at the ECB Schools National Indoor Cricket Finals at Lord’s Cricket Ground after progressing through the county and regional rounds over the past few months. Enjoy match reports from our Head of Cricket, Sam Herbert.
Earlier this year, we were included in The Cricketer’s 2023 Schools Guide’s top 20 girls schools for cricket. We are also proud to be ranked the top girls school for sport in Oxfordshire, and 8th in the country by School Sport Magazine.
Two days at Lord’s in the same week in one year was an experience not to be forgotten in 2022, with last year’s U13 and U15 teams finishing 2nd and 4th. This year’s teams progressed through both county and regional rounds undefeated, so once again we were at Lord’s for back-to-back days at the ECB Indoor Cricket National Finals.
Day 1 – Tuesday 23 May, U13 Finals
Our U13 team was joined by Ashford, Sedbergh, Ipswich and The Island Free schools, who had made it through from an original field of around 900 entries. It was a day full of high-standard cricket, massive ups and downs, tense moments, but smiles, enjoyment and a true feeling of team spirit and togetherness.
Game 1 saw us playing Ashford, in a game that turned out to be between the top two teams: SHSK setting 94 to win and Ashford falling just two short in a nervous finish. Game 2 was a more comfortable victory with a ruthless bowling performance, bowling Sedbergh out for 23 and comfortably surpassing their score, finishing on 107-6. Game 3 was then between the two unbeaten teams of the day, Ipswich and SHSK. Another toss lost and we set 92 to win, only for a last ball thriller… needing 4 to win Ipswich scored 3 to result in a tie, leading to flurries of panic and tallying up runs scored on the day to work out the repercussions of this result. The final round of fixtures saw Ashford play Ipswich and SHSK play the Island Free School, with all results still possible for three of the four sides. Ashford set Ipswich 135 to win (the highest total of the day), leaving SHSK in a position where it looked like victory in our game would be enough to secure the title. With a nervy bowling performance, we were set 92 to win and an even nervier start to our batting performance saw two of our top three batters dismissed. The depth and determination in the squad shone through with the middle order taking us over the line with five balls remaining. An Ipswich loss to Ashford meant SHSK were the only unbeaten side on the day and outright winners, unlike last year’s countback on runs scored!
Whilst there were many highlight performances on the pitch, Mary (8K), Emily (8L) and Niamh (8M) all retiring in three games and standout bowling performances from Emma (8K) and Marney (8L) throughout the day, every single member of the squad contributed in every game, whether it be with fast scoring cameos from Ellie T (8L) and Scarlett (8K), or nerve-settling batting from Olivia (8M) and Eleanor S (8L), every member of the squad should feel truly proud of their contributions. However, the remarkable qualities of this squad are the fun, togetherness and supportive environment they create for each other, which is then backed up by truly outstanding performance.
Day 2 – Wednesday 24 May, U15 Finals
With day 1 and the U13 competition behind us (and an emotionally exhausted coach!), day 2 was suddenly upon us and the turn of the U15 team. Five of the team had been part of last year’s team at the same event, so had experienced it all before, but this didn’t settle any nerves – if anything, it built more expectation.
In hindsight, the symmetry between day 1 and day 2 were alarming. First match was against Repton, eventual runners-up, who we knew to be a very strong side, with their former county teammate captaining the side. SHSK were put into bat first and did so in a self-assured confident manner, setting 96 against a strong Repton bowling side who gave only 5 extras in their 8 overs. But as ever with this squad, they can always rely on their bowling, which was tight, consistent and threatening; Repton fell 7 runs short with all five bowlers for SHSK taking wickets. Similarly to day 1, our second game against Stamford was a more one-sided affair, SHSK limiting them to 66 and whilst trying to make hard work of a straightforward chase, got through comfortably in the end to go onto their tour of Lord’s with two wins under their belt. Game 3 after lunch we played Cardiff Cathedral School, who had come through a very tough regional round and were a relative unknown having only played and won one game in the morning. Another toss won and another manageable total to chase, 74 this time round, and we got off to a flyer with our top three all retiring. Unfortunately, we then suffered a middle order collapse ensuring there was no relaxation allowed, but again a reflection of depth within the squad saw us over the line.
The final game and, unlike the previous day, the situation was simple: win to win. Playing a familiar opposition in St Swithun’s, who we had played outdoors in the National Cup and in a weekend block fixture, St Swithun’s put on their best batting display of the day. Combined with some nervous bowling, we were set 96 to win, a chaseable but challenging total. Once again, similarly to the day before, we showed early nerves losing a couple of quick wickets, but Sophia H (10L) and Georgia P (10K) both retired, allowing the lower order to progress the scoring rate. Tension on the sidelines from Head of Cricket, Director of Sport and Headmistress were evident, but they were acting cool, as were the players. Georgia and Sophia returned after strong contributions from the lower order and saw it through with five balls left. There were premature celebrations from the sidelines, as we had to bat out the rest of the innings for competition purposes, as Georgia played a reverse sweep and a scoop overflowing with confidence. A truly special way to end their indoor cricket campaign and with no competition for the U18s the last time all but one would play in the competition.
There are many similarities between the two squads, in their performances, team spirit and togetherness, but as individuals they are two hugely different squads, both brilliant in their own right. Once again every member of the squad contributed hugely, Flick R-W (10K) with bat (retiring in three games) and gloves; Rosie H (10M) retiring twice and being a calming influence all day for the team; Nicole H (9J), the only Year 9 in the squad retiring twice; the middle/lower batting order all-rounders Evelyn H (10J), Emilia H (10J), Ceci B (10K) and Amelia R (10K) who in every game offered both disciplines and succeeding in one, the other or both every game; and the aforementioned Georgia P (Captain) and Sophia H (Vice Captain). This squad has worked so hard all year, attended training religiously and do everything with a smile on their face, and they do it together!
The two days will stand long in the memories of the coaches, teachers, parents and players who attended, and what a fantastic opportunity for those involved. “Double ECB National Indoor Cricket Champions” has a great ring to it, and we look forward to trying to defend both titles next year, with some familiar faces, but some new ones too.