Haberdashers’ Monmouth School Cricket Tour – 2024

April 22, 2024

Squad of 19 boys drawn from successful U13 and U14 cricket teams.

The 2024 Cricket Tour to Sri Lanka, was a memorable, enjoyable and rewarding experience. Under the leadership of Mr Bassett-Jones, accompanied by Mr Jones, Mr Morris, Mr Boiling and other trip support staff – they travelled with 19 boys from our successful Under 13 and 14 cricket squads.

The tour began in in Dambulla. After a long outward journey, and some rest in the hotel restaurant and pool, we were treated to a 3 hour game drive, during which we saw elephant, mongoose, eagle and peacocks. We then we headed to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city. En route, there was time to marvel at and climb the 1202 steps to the top of the ancient hill-top fortress and palace in Sigiriya. Of which, several boys confronted and overcame their fear of heights!

Later that day, we had an evening practice session in the indoor nets at Trinity College. This helped us get ready for the first matches of the tour, which were two T20 games scheduled for the next day at Wickramabahu College. We won both matches easily. In the first match, Tom M, Dev A, and Olly B bowled exceptionally well. Then, in the second game, Tom M played a thrilling half-century innings. George C and Josh P each took two wickets, while Rafe L and Dev A contributed effectively with the bat. Osian J played a crucial unbeaten innings of 28 runs to help us secure victory.

From Kandy we travelled (via a tea factory, where we were engaged by a guided tour of the manufacturing process) to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s sprawling and chaotic capital. The heat and humidity had been turned up several notches for our first 30 over match of the tour, at the well-appointed Bloomfields Cricket Club. Olly B scored a sizzling half-century to match the weather; Felix S and Tom V provided important support, although the final score of 147 was fewer than it might have been after such a scorching start to the innings.Toby S was the stand-out bowler in reply, and to lose by 5 wickets in the penultimate over represented a strong performance in such challenging conditions.

Although there was no rest day before the next match, the boys were delighted to be given the opportunity to play two T20 matches on the same day in the P. Savaramuttu International Stadium.  Both were lost, but it was clear to see improved performances all-round. Olly C and Josh P were the most successful bowlers, and Olly J scored the tour’s third fifty whilst Dev A was unlucky to fall two short of a well-deserved half-century. Henry S and Felix S batted purposefully against a very good bowling attack. The standard of ground fielding, catching and wicket-keeping was very pleasing indeed.

The pace of life slowed a little as we travelled south to the beach resorts for the final leg of the tour. A 30 over match, followed by two T20 matches the next day, had been arranged at the beautiful Sri Lanka Army Ordnance ground. The 30 over match against Welapura College produced another excellent performance in a narrow defeat: Tom M took his first ever 5 wicket haul and Olly B added two more wickets to his tour total. Olly J and Tom M batted very well together in a partnership of 65.

 

In the first T20 match, Olly B and Olly J opened with the highest and fastest partnership of the tour – 82 from just 7 overs. Although the scoring rate could not be sustained, Toby S, Josh H and Henry S ensured we posted a very respectable total of 145. Great bowling from Olly C and Josh P again saw us home. The second game saw Tom V top score but a dramatic lightning storm curtailed play half way through the match. On the final day of the tour there was an opportunity to visit the impressive Galle Fort, find out more about its colonial history, and take lunch at the iconic Galle International Cricket Stadium.

All 19 boys made positive cricketing contributions to the success of the tour. Of those not referred to by name above, Morgan B impressed with outstanding fielding and accurate seam bowling. Albie B worked hard with the bat, and as a reserve wicketkeeper performed very creditably in the intense heat. Jake P bowled manfully against very good players of spin bowling, and fielded energetically in the enervating conditions. Matthew P’s seam bowling with the new ball was accurate and he brought a positive attitude to everything he did, as did Luke B. It was no surprise that these latter two were named Best Tourists. Henry S and Felix S were named Best Support Players for their kind and considerate approach to their peers and staff.

Olly J and Olly B were named joint Players of the Tour, whilst Josh P claimed the title of Most Improved Player (and took the most wickets).

4 wins from 8 matches was a more than satisfactory return. Moreover, the manner in which the members of the tour squad bonded on and off the pitch augurs very well for the success of the senior cricket XIs over the next 4 years.