Tonbridge tops table for Best Schools Cricketer

The new edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack reveals that Tonbridge has produced a record number of winners of the ‘Schools Cricketer of the Year’ award.

Wisden, the world renowned reference guide commonly referred to as the ‘Bible of Cricket’, has been through its records for every year dating back to 1900, and found that Tonbridge has claimed the most titles, with six. 

Featured among the winners are members of the famous Cowdrey dynasty, Colin and Chris, one of just two pairs of ‘father and son’ players to make the list.

In date order the recipients from Tonbridge are H.M. Bannister (1908), F.H. Knott (1910), M.C. Cowdrey (1949 and 1950), D.R. Aers (1965) and C.S. Cowdrey (1975).

Colin Cowdrey, who represented both Kent and England between the 1950s and 1970s, and became the first cricketer to play 100 Test matches, is one of just nine players to have won Wisden’s schools award twice. 

Each year’s winner is chosen on the basis of his or her performance in schools cricket, as reported in Wisden. The nearest challengers to Tonbridge are Brighton College, Felsted School and Dulwich College, each having four winners.

Among the 111 players who have won the prestigious award in the past 120 years, 90 went on to play first-class cricket, 79 county cricket, and 28 Test cricket. Of the Test players, 25 played for England, nine as captain.

Long recognised as a leading school for cricket, Tonbridge’s success continued in 2019 with the Under-15 side becoming Kent Cup champions and the 1st XI winning the prestigious Cowdrey Cup. The Good Schools Guide states: “(Tonbridge) offers performance cricket at the top end, and mass participation at the bottom”. It adds that the 1st XI ground, The Head, “is renowned nationally.”
There was an absence of schools cricket in 2020, owing to the pandemic, but all at the School are looking forward to its various teams competing once more in the Summer Term.

* Zak Crawley has been named as one of Wisden’s ‘Five Cricketers of the Year’ in its new edition.

Former Tonbridge pupil Zak (WH 2011-16) went into 2020 having made his Test debut in New Zealand the previous November, and over the course of 12 months established himself in England’s batting line-up. 

He truly announced himself on the world stage with his mammoth innings of 267 against Pakistan in August, his maiden three-figure score in Test cricket. Later in the season, Zak was named PCA Young Player of the Year and was also awarded an England central contract. 

Zak joins a prestigious list of Wisden Cricketers of the Year selected while playing for Kent, which includes the likes of Frank Woolley, ‘Tich’ Freeman, Colin Cowdrey, Les Ames, Derek Underwood and Alan Knott.

Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year for 2020 include former West Indies captain Jason Holder; England batsman Dom Sibley; Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan; and Kent all-rounder (and one of Zak’s teammates) Darren Stevens.