The England cricket team’s thrilling triumph in the Women’s World Cup final at Lord’s is sure to inspire girls across the country to get involved. Here is how independent schools are transforming the game for generations to come.
Changing the game
Women’s cricket is certainly having its moment thanks to the World Cup, but has steadily been growing in popularity at independent schools across the country. At Dauntsey’s in Wiltshire, this has been particularly noticable over the last three years following the creation of the girls’ cricket club. The Wiltshire school is now planning to start offering the sport as a games option for its female pupils.
‘The girls are very enthusiastic and train twice a week in their spare time,’ says Sarah Rountree, Dauntsey’s coach for girls’ cricket. ‘We have even occasionally been able to organise mixed training nets sessions. This allows them to show off their talents while facing players who have more experience. The Women’s World Cup has been an inspiration and a handful of pupils were lucky enough to be at Lords to watch England win the final.’
It’s not the only school where the sport has caught on. Spratton Hall, Northants, announced this year that girls will be able to play the sport from next summer. King Edward’s School, Bath is one of the schools to also make the change to its games curriculum, investing £70k in new all-weather cricket lanes to accommodate the increasing numbers of players at the school.
The growing numbers of girls playing cricket has also resulted in the creation of new school tournaments and championships.
Last May, the Independent Association of Prep Schools created a national U11 tournament for prep school players. Bede’s School, in Upper Dicker, hosting the first ever South East Regional tournament, and were named the winners after coming against teams from Highfield, Brighton and Hove High and Cranleigh.
Bede’s currently has 18 county youth cricketers amongst its ranks, three of which are on the Sussex CCC Academy. The school also regularly contributes players to the England development programme.
Indoor cricket has also experienced a boost. In February this year, the Hurst College U15 girls’ cricket team won two indoor tournaments in two days. The first at Bede’s Bash Indoor Cricket Tournament and the second at the Lady Taverners Indoor Cricket Competition, held on their home turf.
Sports departments all know that good partnerships with local clubs can be hugely beneficial. King Edward’s School, Bath works closely with the likes of Bath Cricket Club to provide year-round training facilities and coaching. Pupils are able to use the club’s indoor school along with a three lane state-of-the-art outdoor area. Some of the school’s most prestigious matches also take place on the famous North Parade ground in the middle of the city.
Taunton School, meanwhile, has forged an elite partnership with top women’s cricket team Western Storm for the 2017 season. The school, which has hosted several Women’s World Cup games, will be inspiring young female cricketers in particular through the sponsorship. Western Storm will be offering training sessions with pupils from Taunton School and across the south west, as well as the chance to watch some high profile matches at Somerset’s Cooper Associates County Ground.
Mixing things up
At many independent schools, boys and girls parties and compete on the same cricket teams to even out the playing field, with exciting results.
The mixed U12 cricket team at Alleyn’s School came out on top at the London Cup in a four-teams final, also involving Dulwich College, Emanuel and St Paul’s Cathedral School. ‘It is a fine achievement for our boys and girls and we are very proud of them,’ said Rob Ody, head of boys’s PE and games, of the win.
Dauntsey’s aims to also merge both boys’ and girls’ cricket so that teams are decided solely on talent and ability.
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