The development of junior cricket in Switzerland took another step forward in early June when the Swiss U11s played 6 matches against local teams near London. For many of the players this was the first time that they had played on a grass wicket however they the team performed very well managing to win two games against more experienced sides.
The tour started at Rokeby School in Epsom with the first match against the school’s U11 team. The weather was typically British with heavy showers interrupting the match. A difficult start for Switzerland on a slow grass wicket saw wickets tumble until the weather intervened and the grass wicket became too wet to play. The innings was completed on the adjacent artificial wicket with a recovery led by Tom Harper who top scored on 16 in a total of 59 for 6 off 20 overs. The Rokeby openers batted sensibly waiting to score off the bad balls and even a very tight spell from captain James West of 3.4 overs, 1 for 3, wasn’t enough and the hosts won by 8 wickets.
The second Rokeby game was against the school 2nd XI, an U13 team. The school batted first and the strength and power of the older opponents came through with a few too many boundaries. However Switzerland bowled and fielded very well. Highlights were the 9 year old stars of the team Tom Harper and Arjun Gill who took 4 for 17 and 3 for 7 respectively as Rokeby were bowled out for 108. Progress was steady in reply with wickets falling regularly until a good stand between Max Lightowlers (5) and Nathanial Gordon (16) steadied the innings. Kian Wankede came in at the end to blast 15 but it wasn’t enough and the innings closed on 83 for 5.
Day 2 was a four way 20:20 tournament at Windsor CC, a fantastic setting with the historic Windsor Castle overlooking the pitches. The host team was the first opponent with a strong team including several county representatives. Windsor batted first. Ismail Zaidi and Tom Harper opened the attack with a tremendous spell of fast swing bowling. After three overs Windsor were 5 wickets down for 2 runs which two overs later became 8 wickets for 4 runs. The final wickets scraped the total up to 23. Tom Harper took home the match ball for his 5 for 13 and Ismail finished with 4 for 2. Switzerland knocked off the runs for the loss of 2 wickets – a great start to the tournament. As the first game finished so quickly, the team played a 10 over game against Windsor. Batting first Switzerland got off to a good start with openers Tom Harper (12) and Ethan Wright (9) but could score just 36 in total. Windsor only lost 2 wickets in reaching the target.
Surrey Central District team were the next opponents. The district teams are one level down from the county side so with Surrey’s long history of a very strong first class county side, it was no surprise that these kids could really play. Batting first, Surrey Central District scored 122 for 5 with some excellent shot placement and fierce hitting. Leg spinner Kian Wankede found the grass wicket to his liking getting a lot of turn in taking 3 for 19 off 4 overs. The quality of the Surrey bowling made progress difficult in the reply with wickets falling regularly. Switzerland finishing on 70 for 9 after 20 overs.
The final game was against the Twenty20 Academy side. By this stage of the day, all the kids had been playing for 80 overs so it was a test of stamina. After the disappointment of the heavy defeat in the previous game, the team really pulled together and put on an excellent performance in the field bowling the Academy team out for 63. In reply the long day in the field started to show as the batsman struggled to concentrate and wickets tumbled. The tension mounted as at 43 for 7 the match looked to be going in favour of the Academy. At the wicket Tom Harper and Ethan Wright needed to hold their nerve; Tom was dropped twice and very nearly run out. However in the end they held on to reach the target of 64 to win by 3 wickets.
The result meant that Switzerland U11 finished runners up in the 4-way tournament which was a very creditable performance considering the quality and experience of the opposition. The tour finished on Monday with another session of the Swiss Junior Coaching Academy together with the U13 team and Twenty20 Cricket. The focus of the coaching was on the learning points from the matches and each player will receive written feedback on key points for them to work on. Top run scorers on the tour were Tom Harper (41), Kian Wankhede (38) and Tristan Kelleher (30). Tom Harper was also top bowler with 10 wickets for 93 and Ismail Zaidi finished with 8 for 43. A big thank you to our hosts at Rokeby & Windsor for their excellent hospitality and for the Twenty20 Cricket Company for their support.
Switzerland U11 Manager