Thursday, 29 March, 2012 - 16:29
Twenty-five years old in 2011.
The story begins on a very damp Sunday in June 1986. Repton and Clifton were playing in a Cricketer Cup (Old Boys competition) match. The two professionals, Mike Kettle and Jim Andrew respectively, watched this dreary spectacle and lamented firstly that schools cricket so often had to be played in such awful weather, and secondly that schools such as Repton and Clifton were too far apart to play each other during the season.
During the afternoon they hatched a plan whereby schools that, for geographical reasons, couldn’t normally play each other, could do so in rather better weather conditions. They thought that six schools from different parts of the UK playing in the Caribbean might fit the bill, and if there was some local opposition as well, so much the better.
Mike Kettle knew Don Gooding, who was a Barbadian travel agent working in London, and Don took it on from there. The plan was somewhat hi-jacked by the Barbados Tourist Board (the Minister of Tourism being one Wesley Hall) and it instantly became the Sir Garfield Sobers International Schools Cricket Festival.
The participants in the first year 1987, apart from Repton and Clifton, were Bradfield, Gresham, Merchiston Castle, Shrewsbury, Bishops Stortford, Upper Canada College, Ridley College, & Fatima. The star players of the competition were Chris Adams (Repton), John Meadows (Clifton) and, ahem, Brian Lara (Fatima, Trinidad).
The competition has gone from strength to strength. Many Test players have played in the competition for example, Brian Lara, Chris Adams, Dale Benkenstein (SA), Alastair Cook, Philo Wallace, Dan Raj just to mention a few.
Don Gooding remains the mastermind behind the competition and Sir Garfield takes a close personal interest in it. Not only that, but it is quite hard in Barbados (due to it being a small place) not to bump into the legends of their cricket such as Wes Hall, Charlie Griffiths, Joel Garner, Everton Weekes, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Courtney Browne.
Sir Garfield and Don Gooding visit UK schools every year to talk about the competition.
If you would like to know more, because I too have a close knowledge of the scene, do feel free to contact me. You can always just click on “Sporting Getaways” on the Schools Cricket Online website too to reach Don Gooding’s website.