This summer has already seen an exciting surge of enthusiasm and performance among girl and boy cricketers and a significant shift in the culture of the game at Harrodian.
Cricket is quite a new sport for Harrodian girls – it only became the school's main female summer sport back in 2019 – so it's exciting to witness the surge in performance for the sport now taking place. With more time allocated to the sport on the curriculum, girls have steadily acquired the key skills required and are already taking the step up from soft to hardball cricket.
Hazel Lovegrove, Head of Prep Sport is impressed by the transformation of girls' cricket taking place at the school under what she calls the 'brilliant' leadership of Mr Marcus Howard, Head of Cricket. 'Harrodian now has hardball girls' squads from the 10s right up to the 6th Form training weekly, either on the main square, above, or at Barnes Cricket Club with great enthusiasm and enjoyment,' says Ms Lovegrove who is an experienced international cricketer and full MCC member. 'Many girls are now playing for senior women's cricket clubs outside of school in the local community in Sunday leagues and two girls, Amaya (in the 10s) and Artemis (Lower Sixth) have achieved representative honours, the former with Surrey and the latter with Middlesex.'
Ensuring that girls get the same opportunities as boys both to learn and enjoy playing the game is my central focus so it's great to witness that happening at Harrodian
Mr Marcus Howard, Head of Cricket
For his part, Mr Howard is characteristically modest about the part he has played in cricket's upward trajectory. 'Ensuring that girls get the same opportunities as boys both to learn and enjoy playing the game is my central focus so it's great to witness that happening,' he says. 'When cricket became the main female sport four years ago, all our teachers, male and female, bought into the plan from the start and that hard work is producing a real shift in the cricketing culture. There's more enthusiasm for the game and more participation both among girls and boys. Last Wednesday, for example, we were able to put out six Under 11 teams to play Newlands House, (above), three boys' and three girls' teams .'
Over recent years, pupils of all ages have benefited from the introduction of specialised training at Barnes Cricket Club, with boys and girls in the 10s 12s, 13s and 14s enjoying joint practice sessions in the nets , above and below, both in timetabled and club time. Mr Howard believes these Co-ed cricket sessions have made a big impact. 'Having sessions in which Prep and Senior age cricketers train alongside each other and are coached and treated equally is as beneficial for the boys taking part as it is for the girls,' he says.
Having sessions in which Prep and Senior age cricketers train alongside each other and are coached and treated equally is as beneficial for the boys taking part as it is for the girls. We're seeing a real change in the culture of cricket at Harrodian
Marcus Howard, Head of Cricket
As well as participating fully, Harrodians are also getting more chances to play the game competitively. This season the Under 15s boys made the last 16 of the Surrey Cup for the first time and promising talent is also emerging in the boys Under 13s and 14s. With their skills improving all the time and a bigger pool of female players to choose from, it's safe to predict that the girls will soon be matching the boys' growing success.