During the Easter holidays fifteen cricketers, six tennis players and three members of staff travelled to the United Arab Emirates for eight days for a combined U16 Cricket and Tennis tour. Staying in Dubai, the teams played several matches against a variety of opposition as well as having time to experience life in the Middle East and the tourism opportunities on offer.
The cricketers took part in the inaugural Emirates Airlines U16 ARCH Cricket trophy which included Rendcombe College from Gloucestershire and two local sides: British School Abu Dhabi and the Young Talents Cricket Academy, Sharjah. The team also played a warm-up match against Repton School, Dubai. Playing cricket in the Middle East proved a tough change from English conditions with the team often beaten by the heat and humidity rather than better opposition. However the boys played at world class venues including The Emirates Palace and The Dubai 7evens Ground. Shiplake were involved in some close matches against Rendcombe in a day night match at the picturesque Al Daid Stadium in Sharjah, where camels roamed the boundary and against the British School Abu Dhabi where we lost by four wickets. Milo Taylor proved the best of the batsmen with 133 runs at an average of 33.25 and a top score of 62 whilst Charles Marsden averaged 10 with his off spin and Ben Arnold 22 with the new ball. A successful tour, if not by results, but the boys will certainly never complain about hot playing conditions again!
The tennis boys faired better despite arriving in the middle of the local tennis season. After blowing away the cobwebs in training on the first day at Repton School Dubai, Shiplake went down in some close fought matches to Dubai College. The hosts running out winners by six matches to three. Next up was a rigorous training day at the stunning Meydan Race Course Tennis Academy, where the boys had the chance to be schooled by the UAE’s top coaches. Further matches against the PT Academy and Jumeirah Tennis Club, played under the shadows of the magnificent Burj Al Arab, set the boys up nicely for the highlight of the tour, the chance to compete in the UAE U16 Singles Open at the Zayden Tennis Club in Abu Dhabi. Playing on the courts which hosts an ATP event the team played superbly. James Bailey was the star of the team reaching the Quarter-Finals before missing out narrowly in a third set tie-break. Yeem Chanthanawan and Harry Cheesewright also made the second round. The squad were excellently captained and motivated by senior player Kit Bowerin and the match practice will set the team up superbly for the season.
Photo: Tom Mockridge bowling at the Emirates Palace.