Together for Moore state school cricket as St Bart’s and Park House take part in new Toby Radford Trophy
International cricket coach Toby Radford, who was raised and educated in Newbury, returned to his old stomping ground last week to watch his former schools battle it out in a new state-only competition that bears his name, the Toby Radford Trophy.
Radford, once one of the finest schoolboy batters in England, attended Park House from Year 7 to Year 11 and went to St Bart’s for sixth form.
He represented England under-19s, played first class cricket for Middlesex and Sussex and spent two seasons with Berkshire but really made his name as a coach, first with Berkshire, then Middlesex, Glamorgan and West Indies.
Now an internationally renowned batting coach, Radford was the obvious choice to be the name on the cup when cricket lover and St Bart’s English teacher, Richard Clayton, had the idea to create a tournament for state schools.
State schools have traditionally received short shrift in the world of cricket, but since Year 13 pupil Elliot Crouch suggested the sport should be revived at St Bart’s, it has gone from strength-to-strength.
For cricket to establish itself in state schools, a mutually supportive network in the area is vital, and not just for sporting reasons.
Crouch, who led St Bart’s for nine matches last year, taking on a mixture of state and independent school opponents, said: “I look forward to the expansion of state school cricket as a mode for teaching young people about the importance of teamwork, strategy and courage.”
On the pitch, Odhinn Moore scored a superb 65 not-out as Park House finished as narrow 16-run winners over St Bart’s at Falkland’s second ground, the Wilson Carlisle Ground.
The match was the final group game of a tournament involving six schools across West Berkshire and Oxfordshire designed to increase the profile and participation of senior state school cricket, which tends to wane or peter out entirely after Year 10.
Park House won the toss and elected to bat, with opener Tiago Castro getting his side off to a good start with a well-made 32.
Max Seaward also provided a valuable innings, scoring 33, but the standout performance came courtesy of Odhinn Moore, who finished unbeaten on 65 following a stroke filled innings as Park House posted 170/4 from their 20 overs.
James Humphreys (2-30) was the pick of the St Bart’s bowlers, there was a wicket each for Vivaan Rajawat (1-20) and Ani Vashisht (1-28), while Ben Lawson kept things tight and was unfortunate not to pick up a scalp.
In response, St Bart’s openers Leo Clark (20) and Vivaan Rajawat (21) made a solid start, but Odhinn Moore (2-15) and Mason Brown (2-17) hit back with a handful of quick wickets in succession.
Alex Braidwood smashed an excellent 54 to keep his side in contention but leg-spinner Max Seaward took a hat-trick that proved the final death knell in the St Bart’s chase.
Seaward finished with remarkable figures of 2-3 from two fantastic overs as a spirited St Bart’s fell 16 runs short of Park House’s total.
Radford, who also spent time with Year 8s and 9s in a nets session, said: “It brought back some good memories, I’ve got a few more grey hairs now.
“Richard (Clayton) has really driven this forward and I think it’s fantastic.
“The game was played in really good spirits and there were some talented cricketers out there.
“The main thing is to give these students a chance to pursue cricket.
“For cricket to be successful at higher levels, the base of the pyramid needs to be strong.
“You want state school students to have just as much opportunity as those at public schools, who have all the facilities and full time coaches.
“I’m so grateful to Richard, who has worked so hard with this initiative.
“There’s a chance now for this to expand and include more schools as well as girls, it could really be the start of something.
“Cricket is a great game and we want people playing and enjoying it.”
With all the group games now complete, Park House have qualified for the third and fourth placed play-off against King Alfred’s, while St Bart’s will take on Faringdon in the battle for fifth spot.