1st XI Tour to Dubai – Schools Arch Trophy 2017

18 April 2017


The 1st XI cricket side left for Dubai on the final day of term to compete in the Schools Arch Trophy. A gruelling schedule meant they played five matches in seven days, including three days on the trot, which was very hard work for the players in soaring heat.

The boys stepped up to the plate though and went the whole tournament unbeaten to win the trophy. Straight off the overnight train journey the team had a match at the ICC Cricket Centre against local club side – Darjeeling. It was the perfect warm up game where most of the batting line got some time in the middle – a decent score was posted and the skipper – Brandon Lee – was able to rotate his bowling attack. He and Olly Clarke were both retired in their twenties and there were also useful knocks from Adam King and Nikko Elliott.

With the ball Stowe were under pressure early, but Albert Johnson broke the opening partnership and got two wickets, with Charlie Leefe picking up three towards the end. Stowe winning by 34 runs.

The following day the team had the morning off and the opportunity was taken to get up the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building followed by a look round the expanses of Dubai Mall. In the afternoon we transferred to a nets session at the ICC Cricket Academy. It was a good opportunity for those who did not do much in the warm up match to get some practice time and we also had access to part of an outfield for some fielding.

Day three was the start of the tournament proper against last year’s champions – Zayed Academy. The match was played on the nursery ground to Shaik Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Stowe lost the toss and Zayed opted to bat on what looked a very good wicket. However, opening with left arm spinner – Olly Clarke – the team got off to the perfect start with an immediate strike and Will Garrett followed up with a caught and bowled in the next over. Clare then removed their number four. With their top three gone Stowe controlled the innings and although a few partnerships developed the team kept taking wickets to restrict Zayed to 153 all out in 38 overs. Tom Worall bowled particularly well to pick up 4 for 21. Olly Clarke 2 for 16 from his 8 overs was equally as impressive.

The chase by Stowe was clinical. Brandon Lee and Olly Clarke shared a 113 run opening partnership that all but nailed the game shut. Adam King finished things off nicely with a classy 15 not out. Brandon finishing 81 not out. It was the perfect start to the tournament and a good win against a good side.

Stowe rejigged their batting line up for the following days match against Dubai College to give some other players an opportunity. Calum Renshaw took this opportunity opening the batting to score 65. Brandon Lee – batting five made 96 not out and there was a bright and breezy 48 from Jarrod Van der Westhuizen. Stowe putting up a huge score of 242 for 5.

Dubai College never really went for the runs and were bowled out for 148. The wickets were shared around although Stowe unearthed a new bowler in Jim Jackman who took 4 for 19 in six overs. Another dominant performance to win by 94 runs.

The teams third match in a row brought Oakham, who Stowe play on their regular circuit. By now the boys were very tired from playing in the heat and there were a few niggling injuries to contend with. However, the team knew that a win today would go a long way to winning the tournament regardless of the result in the final match.

The game was a thriller that went down to the last ball.  It wasn’t a great game of cricket. There were lots of drop catches, misfields and wides from both sides. Oakham scrapped up to 190 for 6, with both teams unhappy. At 104 for one Oakham would have hoped for more and Stowe felt if they had bowled and caught better they could have been chasing less. Olly Clarke was again impressive with the ball taking 2 for 25 from his 8 overs and Jim Jackman was the other bowler of note with 1 for 19 from his six overs.

In reply Stowe lost three early wickets and it looked a tough chase, but Adam King and Calum Renshaw steadied the ship and kept up with the rate. King and Renshaw were dismissed not far apart and Stowe were still 70 runs short with half of their wickets gone. However, Tom Worrall and Archie Dixon-Smith batted well to put on 30 until Worrall fell with Jim Jackman going with no addition to the scoreboard. Seven wickets down and forty needed – a win looked unlikely, but Archie Dixon-Smith upped the run rate and found strong support from the injured Jack Foreman who had to bat with a runner. They took the game to with ten runs needed when Jack had a rush of blood to be caught. Charlie Leefe – no mug with the bat looked calm and collected as he knocked a few singles and Archie kept his head to bring it down to five needed off the final over. A couple of dot balls, a couple of singles and a two left one run required off the final ball with Leefe facing. A back of a length ball on his hip was duly pulled for four and the match was won. Stowe’s players invaded the pitch to congratulate the batting pair.

The team had a well-earned day of rest the following day and let off some steam at the Wild Wadi Waterpark followed by some golf under lights in the evening.

Skipper Brandon Lee finally won a toss and elected to bat against Bedford in their final match. It was a scrappy innings where most players made starts but no one in the top order went on. Calum Renshaw made a good 38 but Stowe found themselves 122 for 7 going into the last ten overs with Jim Jackman and Jack Foreman at the crease. They knuckled down and played with great skill and thought to add seventy runs in that time to give Stowe a competitive 192. Jim finished 51 not out and Jack 33 not out.

Boyed by the stand, Stowe put in their best bowling and fielding performance of the tour. Clarke was once again miserly (6 overs for 7 runs), but it was Albert Johnson who was the chief wicket taker as he took all of the top order out with a fine spell of off spin bowling (4 for 21 off 8). Tom Worrall and Jim Jackman also took a wicket each and Charlie Leefe destroyed the tail to take 4 for 9 runs to finish Bedford’s innings off. Bedford all out for 93, Stowe winning by 99 runs and crowned champions of the tournament. Stowe also becoming the only school to have won this tournament twice, having also won in 2011.

It was a fine tour and in trying conditions the boys showed great character throughout. Brandon Lee was superb as captain and he was backed up by his bowling attack throughout. There is still room for improvement, but the team will go into the summer season with confidence.

Darjeeling Man of the Match: Charlie Leefe
Zayed Man of the Match: Olly Clarke
Dubai College Man of the Match: Brandon Lee
Oakham Man of the Match: Archie Dixon-Smith
Bedford Man of the Match: Jim Jackman and Albert Johnson
Batter of the Tour: Brandon Lee (223 runs at 73)
Bowler of the Tour: Charlie Leefe (9 wickets)
Fielder of the Tour: Jim Jackman
Most Improved: Albert Johnson
Best Team Man: Jack Foreman
Coaches Player of the Tour: Brandon Lee
Players Player: Jim Jackman