Joshua Peck finds that a delighted David English is planning more tours for his Bunbury cricket prospects
The Bunburys made history this week as they returned from a first ever tour, and now founder David English wants to get the boys on a plane on an annual basis.
A nine-day tour to Sri Lanka was the first time the Bunburys – the best schoolboys in the country – showcased their skills in a foreign climate, and though they returned home with a 3-1 defeat it was certainly a trip worthwhile.
“It was a stunning success and I’m really proud because it was our first ever Bunbury tour,” said English. “I’ve been running the Bunburys for 31 years. We’ve had two junior World Cups, 31 festivals, U13 festivals but never a tour.
“You have to find kindred spirits in life. I found Danushka at LycaFly, I call him Dan the Man, and he really bought into the idea. He’s a Sri Lankan gentleman and off they went. It was the best 14 boys of the 2016 Bunbury Festival against 16-year-olds in Sri Lanka.
“I want to do it every year now. I want to take the best 14 of the Festival in the summer to tour the following March, if I can get the finance. Next year I’d like to go to South Africa, then the West Indies and do a Bunbury world tour.”
The Bunbury squad was captained by Jack Haynes, of Worcestershire, and included boys from up and down the country. Indeed, Haynes led from the front making 93 as the visiting side won the third encounter after going 2-0 down, with the 16-year-old hitting six maximums in his brutal innings.
And after the success of taking the best in Britain abroad, English now wants to invite the Sri Lankans for a reverse series at the 2017 Bunbury Festival at Millfield.
He added: “They beat us 3-1. It was searing heat. The Sri Lankans had been practising together for nine months and knew each other very well. Our lads had been at Loughborough for four or five weeks.
“Although we got beaten, they now know what they’ve got to do to take their game to the next level. If you want to become a Test player, you’ve got to be able to play in all conditions. It will be interesting to see how they get on in an English summer.
“We’ve had all the England squad come through Bunbury, apart from Stuart Broad who missed out as he had a bad back. These boys now can emulate their heroes and go and play in the countries where England regularly visit.”
The Bunburys lost the first clash despite recovering from 19-5 to post 134 with Hamidullah Quadri (Derbyshire) and Sean Sullivan, of Essex, showing the way. The hosts, however comfortably chased it down for a well-deserved six-wicket victory.
After a day or relaxation, the Bunburys lost six wickets for 42 runs having looked well set at 153-4 in the 39th over of the second encounter.
Again, Sri Lanka reached their target with relative ease.
The tourists did take it to the final game with victory in the third clash and they made a competitive score of 245 thanks to the captain’s classy 93 and Jordon Cox’s valuable cameo at the end. And the Bunbury bowlers dominated, dismissing the home team 99 runs short of their target.
Bunburys couldn’t take the chance to level the series, though, with a lacklustre performance for the visitors in part due to several of the team suffering from sickness bug, Sri Lanka winning by 104 runs to take the series 3-1.
Andy Rowsell, the coach for the Bunbury squad, said: “Technically, they are very gifted cricketers. That is why they were selected to tour in the first place but they soon became aware that to take their game to another level there are many other attributes they require both, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is why this tour was so valuable.
“It was so beneficial from a cricket development point of view but it also provided an opportunity for the boys to develop as people.
“They quickly moulded as a team and the way they carried themselves both on and off the field was exemplary.
“Their ability to speak and make relevant contributions to the group was excellent. Their ability to meet new people and forge new friendships showed many of them to have a certain poise. To a great extent their maturity made great strides on this tour.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, April 14 2017
Subscribe to the digital edition of The Cricket Paper here