After 17 undefeated games, the Brentwood School U12s 1st XI, were crowned champions of the L. Weston Trophy, having played outstandingly against runners-up, Southend High School.
The trophy is presented each year to the winners of the Essex County Schools’ Cricket Association and the last time Brentwood had won this prestigious award was back in 2010.
As schools around the country started back after a long summer’s break, the sun shone brightly on The Old County Ground. Brentwood School won the toss and elected to bat.
Team Captain, William Howard, and Evan Ackerman proudly walked out to the crease knowing they had to stamp an early mark on the opposition. Within no time at all, the opening pair had settled in to a successful partnership, hitting balls for 4 around the pitch and amassing a tremendous score of 140 until the first wicket fell. Ackerman came very close to getting his half a century having been caught for 46. Howard, went on to retire on 104 leaving the field with a standing ovation from the crowd having contributed towards a combined score of 190 with 10 overs left of the 30 over game.
The last time an impressive century was made during an Essex Schools’ final, was by England and Essex cricketer, Ravi Bopara, almost two decades ago. 3rd batsman Harry Douris was a further close contender for a half century, clean hitting and scoring a rapid 40. With continued mature batting of this young side, they went on to achieve 266 for only 5 strongly defended wickets.
Following on from Tea, the home side clapped the visitors onto the square. Freddie Thorn and Freddie Abbott opened the bowling and soon 2 wickets had been taken.
Southend had made less than 40 after 10 overs, leaving lots of work for the remaining batsman to do. It was then the turn of Maddie Austin, the only girl in the side, who soon was credited for the 3rd wicket after a powerful delivery, caught in the air by Thorn. Her pace bowling and maiden over, gave little score away.
Further wickets tumbled as Tom Arnold one-handedly plucked a ball from the air and Zac Puchakayala sent the bails flying. 68-5 after 19 overs and the Trophy was in close sights for Brentwood.
It would be wrong not to mention the spin bowling skills of Freddie Wren, which the Southend batsmen did not like to face, especially when he denied them runs and stole their wickets. Finlay Stronach also contributed well by taking two quick and successive wickets. Just as the light began to fade, the final catch of the day was in the safe hands of Ged Southgate as the batsman hit the ball into deep extra cover.
The whole Brentwood team has played exceptionally well this season and the quality of the side was displayed in front of the Headmaster, Ian Davies, Master i/c of Cricket, Steve Salisbury, and a very well supported parental crowd.
They say that practise makes perfect, and it is with thanks to Mr Phil Rees, the dedicated Economics teacher and coach of this incredible side, who gave up his personal time over the school holiday to arrange five coaching sessions to make sure his team were match fit and ready for this coveted final. Ex-Essex and Suffolk batsman and Brentwood School Cricket Professional, Jaik Mickleburgh, now has the pleasure of leading this side as an U13s squad this forthcoming season.