Andy Barnard, Tour Leader and Head of Cricket:
It was my pleasure and honour to lead the first co-educational cricket tour from Shrewsbury School to Cape Town, South Africa. I have nothing but praise for the whole party, who represented themselves and the School with great dignity and discipline throughout. I was proud of the effort every squad member put into their play, preparation and involvement.
This was in fact the sixth tour we have undertaken to South Africa. This one, above all others, proved to be the toughest when it came to opponents. In South Africa they are just running into their final week or two of their cricket season and the players are therefore in prime form. Rondebosch Boys’ School, for example, have played 34 1st XI matches, including three five-day festivals, since winning the Silk Trophy here in Shrewsbury last July. No wonder they were red hot!
I was lucky enough to be able to watch all three of our teams play on different days and I am content in the knowledge that despite the results, we have a core of excellent talent that will help us sustain our hard-won reputation as one of the leading cricket schools in the UK.
The squad also enjoyed the other side of touring, notably some fine food on the V&A Waterfront – Cape Town, a humbling trip to Robben Island and three trips to Cape Town’s beautiful beaches, plus the breath-taking views from Table Mountain after the exhilarating cable car ride.
The Boys 1st XI won their first match against a Durbanville CC team, who possessed some canny bowlers. But thereafter they came across quality school sides Bishops, South Africa College (SACS - the oldest English-speaking school in South Africa), Paul Roos Gymnasium (PRG - the oldest Afrikaans-speaking school in the country) and Rondebosch (who have never lost to a touring team), who put us to the sword.
It was particularly in the field where we found little respite: every little mistake we made got punished. But I am sure that the lessons learned will help us play all the better this summer.
Will Hughes, Boys U15 Manager and Lead Coach:
The U15s were a tight-knit squad who stuck together and always gave 100% in some very tough situations and conditions. Their playing record (won 1 lost 4) would suggest they were out of their depth, outplayed and outclassed. But this could not be further from the truth, as they went toe to toe with every opponent and were on top in numerous sessions of play, but perhaps took their foot off their opponent’s throat at key moments.
It was perhaps the batting where we can learn the most lessons, as the wickets required real patience and application in seeing off good bowling and waiting for the release ball to hit to the boundary.
The bowling, ground fielding and catching was very encouraging and nearly got us over the line where the batting had been below par. True Salopian spirit came to the fore on numerous occasions and the boys were great value to coach – always positive and willing to listen and learn.
This is a strong group of cricketers who have the potential to perform well in their normal school fixtures and national cup competitions. They will have all gained vital experience in playing five very competitive matches in five days at some of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world.
Gwenan Davies, Head of Girls' Cricket:
The Girls 1st XI were an extremely hard-working and grounded group, and an absolute pleasure to work with. Five games in five days was always going to be a big ask, especially in 30-degree weather. So to come away with four wins out of five was an amazing achievement, particularly as they included wins against two out of three of the provincial sides.
The proudest moment for me on tour was watching different individuals step up in different games and take their opportunity; the way the girls stuck together in hot and tiring conditions was phenomenal.
In addition to learning plenty on the cricket field, the girls also took away fantastic life lessons and memories off the pitch. After their third match vs Bellville High School they saw first-hand just a glimpse of the poverty in South Africa, having played against four girls who were living in one of the local townships. It was an incredibly humbling experience, and the time the girls spent playing, laughing and taking pictures with those girls just showed that we had taken true Salopians on tour!
In each of their games, the girls certainly made good friends. Whilst battling it out in the middle of the pitch, there was plenty of camaraderie off the pitch – exactly what cricket is all about.
Thank you to all the tour partners, host schools, travelling supporting parents and staff for making the tour such a success.
Andy Barnard, Tour Manager and Head of Cricket
Adam Shantry, Cricket Professional
Gwenan Davies, Head of Girls’ Cricket
Paige Scholfield, Girls' Assistant Coach
Will Hughes, Boys' U15 Manager and Lead Coach
Tyler Ibbotson, Boys' U15 Coach