Bright Future Ahead for Bloxham's 1st XI Squad
Well done to the Bloxham School 1st XI cricket squad on their commitment and strong teamwork throughout the season, which has earned them some impressive wins. Thank you to 1st team coach Mr Finch for his review of the season.
This season, Bloxham's 1st XI cricket squad has seen a lot of changes to its personnel after having a fairly steady side over the last couple of years. This provided the chance for some of the younger students to demonstrate how their winter training had developed their game and their skills. This year's winter programme started earlier than usual and focused more on one-to-one sessions, enabling more specific coaching to focus on players' individual requirements. The programme culminating in a pre-season camp at Lilleshall National Sports Centre, where the time was devoted to preparing our students for the challenges they would face in the upcoming season. The players took part in practical sessions and each received an individual plan. The final afternoon concluded with the World T20 Final, which was the perfect finish to what was a hard and physically demanding few days.
The squad had a tough start to their season, including fixtures against Malvern, Warwick and MCS Oxford, however, the young team adopted a positive attitude and was able to learn from the experiences. The bowling and fielding aspects of the team's game developed quickly and it was really pleasing to see the seam bowlers learning their roles so quickly. The batting was still a work in progress but the coaching staff were confident that the team would pull all parts of the game together before the end of the season.
External exams came around during the Summer Term, which disrupted team selection and continutity amongst the older squad members and placed greater demands on the younger players, who really stepped up to the challenge. Having a young leadership team supported by some older players meant a big effort was required from all in order to maintain the team's development path.
The typical English weather played its part in what was a stop-start season with two games abandoned for snow and others cancelled due to flash flooding. However, this didn’t dampen the moral in the dressing room and the team made great progress across the term. One of the highlights was a home win against Dean Close - the team’s hard work was paying off and the players built on this victory to record a further three successive wins, ending the term with some dominant displays. One of these included a nine wicket victory over the OBs at the annual Founderstide fixture. The OBs batted first and the school's 1st XI produced some of the finest bowling and fielding that their coaches had seen for a number of seasons. The positive comments from OBs and parents alike reflected how far this young set of players have come in such a short period of time. To further support this, Captain Ollie M and Vice-Captain Toby S-P produced a fine batting display in the return Dean Close fixture after term had finished with Ollie reaching 101 not out and Toby 50 not out to chase down the target that Bloxham had been set.
As is tradition when term finishes, Bloxham headed to the Woodard Schools' Cricket Festival, this year hosted at Hurstpierpoint College. The festival attracts schools from across the UK - this year, Loretto School came down from Scotland to compete for the first time. The festival allows coaches to look at players for the future and the Bloxham staff were not disappointed with the commitment and skill on display. The boys enjoyed the experience of facing teams outside of the normal season's fixtures, as well as the social side of the competition. One of the highlights from the three matches was Captain Ollie's continuing fine form with the bat, scoring a century against Loretto School and 50 against Hurstpierpoint College.
The 1st XI have shown great commitment this season and I am really proud of the efforts of each player. A big thank you to Paul Atkins for all his hard work in helping to prepare the team for their games, and to Mr Richmond for supporting the implementation of a plan for building a team for the future.