June 14, 2022

Cricket Masterclass: 4 Schools All Out!

Four KS2 schools were welcomed to the Park on Tuesday 14th June for our second Cricket Masterclass since the introduction of our Outreach and Partnerships Sports Programme. The first, pre-pandemic, was a huge success and we were delighted to host another group of Year 5 pupils to repeat the experience.

Over 50 students from St Edward’s Prep, Hemdean House, New Christ Church Primary and St Teresa’s Catholic Academy gathered at the Cricket Pavilion to experience a rotation of cricket training exercises led by Leighton Park Sports students and PE Dept staff, Matt, Sam, Ellie and Jakki. The drills included spending 15 to 20 minutes on basic skills such as catching and throwing, a batting shot (hit to leg), some bowling skills, and played a game of Kwik cricket.

Senior Master and current Chair of the Berkshire Cricket Club, Mark Simmonds, commented “It’s a fantastic opportunity for students who haven’t played cricket before. The whole idea of it is that they go away from today having had fun and perhaps look forward to playing a game. And if all of them take one thing away from today, any one of the skills, then it will have been a positive experience for them and certainly a positive experience for us.”

Following a much needed, and thoroughly delicious snack mid-morning from our ice cream van,  the budding cricket stars reflected on their experience. “I loved it!” enthused Joshua from St Edward’s Prep with classmate Dhananjay adding, “It was amazing; I would recommend you go to the cricket masterclass. The day was really good!”. Lilly-May from St Teresa’s Catholic Academy thought, “It was fabulous!” whilst fellow Year 5, Izzy, said “It was really good and I learnt a new skill.’ Victory from Hemdean House felt “It was nice and you get to try different activities.” “I had the best day!” said Max, also from Hemdean House. “It was very fun and I would come again because the teachers were good.” concluded Roua with Zachary echoing “The Cricket Masterclass is a great way to properly learn cricket in all it’s glory.” Everyone agreed that it would have been even better if there had been more time.

Mark Simmons explained that the visiting pupils are not the only ones to benefit. “Many of the students we’ve got working here with the groups have been through our Sports Leaders course in Year 10. They just love it; the enthusiasm they have for the youngsters is fantastic and that becomes infectious. I think it’s a good way for them to gain confidence as they are playing cricket as young coaches rather than as young players and it’s been a positive morning for everybody.”

Albie (Lower Sixth) reflected, “It gives me a chance to really work on my leadership skills and find a way to communicate with everyone and improve some of the skills that we have learnt here. There is a lot of communication; it boosts your confidence a lot having the ability to know what you are talking about and explain it to other people.”

The morning finished with ice creams from the ice cream van which for Sofia from New Christ Church Primary was her favourite part of the cricket masterclass; “The day would have been even better if I had had two icecreams!” she reflected whereas for her classmate Robbie “The day would have been even better if it could be every day!”. Their teacher, Sarah Newton, rated the experience as outstanding, observing: “I’ve never seen them so relaxed but involved as well as learning new skills.”

The Cricket Masterclass is part of Leighton Park’s annual Cricket Week, a celebration of Cricket which sees Leighton Park cricketers up against itinerant and amazing Forty Club, the world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Old Leightonians’ Cricket Club, a network of committed sportsmen and women whose funds have recently paid for the sympathetic refurbishment of the school’s beautiful 1934 Cricket Pavilion.

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