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Cup finals cap a fine season of cricket at Tonbridge

Tonbridge has been enjoying a ‘glorious summer’ of School cricket once more, with a packed programme of both inter-school and House matches.

While the 2020 season was of course, severely curtailed for all schools and teams across the country, the sport has been back in full swing during the Summer Term. Tonbridge has been fielding five First Year teams, three in the Second Year, three ‘Colts’ teams in the Third Year and no fewer than seven teams across the Sixth Form. 

There has been a lively programme of House matches, culminating in the Senior House finals on Thursday (1 July), which saw all 12 Houses competing for various trophies. A busy fixture list has taken advantage of the School’s ten cricket pitches.

Two other matches, pitting the Upper Sixth against the Lower Sixth, or, in other words, the ‘Leavers versus the Remainers’, are taking place during the School’s annual Skinners’ Day on Saturday 3 July. 

Tonbridge has once more tasted success in the inter-school cup competitions, which have returned after a year’s absence. The U16As had a fine win against Harrow in the ESCA National Cup South Final, putting in a performance described by Tonbridge teacher Adam Sixsmith as “a performance of real determination and maturity”. Ollie Sykes (HS3) with an unbeaten 100, Will Nolan (MH3) with 54 not out, and Callum Porritt (Sc3) with 4-10 from his 7-over spell were among the notable contributions in what was an outstanding team performance. 

Mr Sixsmith added: “After the lack of cricket in the last year, it was amazing to have such a fantastic atmosphere on The Head, which gave the match the sense of occasion it deserved.” 

The U15As matched this success with a win in the Kent (Miskin) Cup Final, in which they beat Sevenoaks School. Sevenoaks batted first and reached 109 off their 20 overs, with the highlight being a well-taken stumping from Ollie Morgan (PH3) off the bowling of Jean Van der Spuy (FH3). 

Jake Hazari-Webb (OH2) and Ed Lee's (SH2) partnership of 81 got Tonbridge close before Sam Pike (JH2) helped to guide Tonbridge over the line at the end of the 13th over. Following their excellent performance, the U15s now progress to the regional stage.

The U14As have reached the final of the Kent (Oliver) Cup. Due to the weather, the side will have to wait until September to play their final to determine whether they will represent Kent in the U15 National 40-over competition next year. 

The First XI competed in Finals Day in the HMC T20 National competition, played at Arundel, narrowly losing their semi final to evenual winners Malvern College.

Rob Stephen, Master in Charge of Cricket, said: “Cricket was sorely missed last year, so it has been great to see so many boys representing their Houses and the School this term. There has been a record number of senior teams playing fixtures this year, which shows enthusiasm for the sport is as high as ever, while the success of our junior teams suggests there is a bright future ahead.”

Each year Tonbridge is included in a list of the UK’s best schools for cricket put together by national journal The Cricketer. The magazine’s Good Schools Guide considers the merits of schools based on quality of facilities, commitment to cricket in the curriculum and breadth of fixture programmes. The Cricketer states: “Tonbridge offers performance cricket at the top end, and mass participation at the bottom”. It adds that the First XI pitch, The Head, “is renowned nationally”. 

The School staged a day-long Prep School Cricket Tournament in June, which saw 16 teams competing for top honours, with Saint Ronan’s School beating Cumnor House in the final.

Old Tonbridgians Zak Crawley (WH 11-16) and Marcus O’Riordan (FH 11-16) are currently playing for Kent, with Zak being a member of the England team in the past year. Ed Hyde (FH 11-16) and Alex Moen (FH 13-18) represented Cambridge in this year’s Varsity Match, and Toby Pettman (WW 11-16) has also broken into county cricket, having recently signed a contract with Nottinghamshire.

Pictured above: Cricket being played at Tonbridge.   

Below, from top: The U16As celebrate in the ESCA National Cup South Final (two pictures); Net practice; the 1st XI on The Head (two pictures); Aerial view.