And so another successful Tom Maynard Academy comes to a conclusion. Just by way of rounding things off, let the record show that the Academy XI won both Twenty20 matches against a Spanish Cricket Academy XI.
The scorecards can be found below.
From memory I was sure it was Adam Tillcock smashing six after six into the car park in a cameo knock as the Trust XI cruised to 230-6 in the second game, but maybe I was wrong. Or maybe Jordan Thompson paid a few bob to take the credit…
The batsmen all got a knock – Andy Umeed, Bradley Erasmus, Alex Barrow and Alex Wakely all making half centuries, with Adam Tillcock and Chris Wood slugging a few tail-end missiles. The bowlers, as can be seen from the scorecards, more than kept a lid on it. This Yorkshire-brought-up writer particularly enjoyed the aggression of the Yeadon Destroyer, Jordan Thompson, with the ball. They breed a prototype North of the Peak District, of that I’m sure.
The last couple of days at Desert Springs were spent focusing on game plans and it’s difficult to argue, given the margin of the two victories, that these were not effectively put into practice. Alex Wakely survived a back spasm to lead the side in the two matches (he and Woody led the whole group well all week), though Matt Taylor had gone over on his ankle prior to the first game and unfortunately had to sit both out. However he did contribute significantly to morale by capturing the wonderful moment when Liam Norwell managed to lose his footing while batting. For those of you on Twitter, hunt it out. I keep looking at it and it keeps raising a smile (sorry, Liam). I don’t know why I’m laughing – I managed to break a plastic chair just by sitting on it, something I’m delighted to say wasn’t captured by any prying camera. Kept Harvey amused for hours, though.
The final night at Desert Springs saw the hugely popular meal in The Cave (or Cuevas, as I believe the locals refer to it), where the management were able to thank the players for their commitment and contribution. Having been fortunate to have had Somerset’s Marcus Trescothick and Alfonso Thomas joining us for a couple of days as part of their own preparation for pre-season, Marcus had by now returned to the UK, but Alfonso remained through to La Manga for the matches, albeit not playing and instead focusing on his own fitness and rehab. As ever, the meal at The Cave was a highlight for everyone.
The weather at La Manga lived up to expectations. Clear blue skies but, on one side of the ground, a wind right up there with the most biting. The contrast with the other side of the ground – jackets off, bathed in sunshine – was stark. Wins under their belts, the group were guests at La Manga Cricket Club’s presentation evening before heading out for a well-earned few drinks on the last night. The singing, if it can be called that, at the Karaoke at The Last Drop was an interesting mix of a gaggle of drowning cats and a pack of Labradors having their tails stamped on collectively. Think of the worst off tune over-loud noise you can. And then treble it.
Jordan Thompson inspired a crowd ‘Yaaarkshire’, irrespective of whatever it was he was trying to sing; Dean Conway (and backing dancers led by Andy Umeed) regaled us with Meatloaf and Tom Jones favourites; but the cultural highlight was undoubtedly the West Country trio of Liam Norwell, Alex Barrow and our own Matt Maynard giving us a rendition of ‘I’ve Got A Brand New Combined Harvester’. Settling into his new Somerset role nicely, then, is our Matt…
Let’s just say the singing needs work. But what a great sight for those of us putting the Academy together to see a group who didn’t know anyone as they set off bonding on the last night in such a positive way. The cricket lessons will be learned, we are sure, but the knowledge that there will be some friends made for life shouldn’t be underplayed. Great stuff.
Debriefs done, it was time for home. Matt and I would like to thank all the lads for showing a consistently professional attitude throughout their time with us (though this did drop as the Karaoke beckoned, disappointingly…). We hope that you have all gained a lot from the experience. We’re also grateful to the management team, especially Paul Nixon, Ian Harvey and Dean Conway, and the input of Mark Garaway, Jamie Dalrymple, Martyn Ryan and our kit sponsor Richard Green of Abbey Glass, for their contribution and support along the way. Hard work, but tremendous fun, and it’s difficult to imagine a better management group for this sort of enterprise.
In terms of support from outside our group, a huge ‘thank you’ to Andy House of Sport Europe in particular. What a diamond that man is. Always willing to help. As well as everyone at Desert Springs, especially Ellie (food and beverage, nothing too much trouble) and Kirk (who provided the vital golf link), along with Anthony and his team who did such an outstanding job on the nets. We look forward to catching up with everyone again in 2016.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Alex Barrow (Somerset); Bradley Erasmus (Surrey); Jack Murphy (Glamorgan); Liam Norkett (Gloucestershire); Jamie Porter (Essex); Sunny Singh (Warwickshire); Matt Taylor (Gloucestershire); Jordan Thompson (Yorkshire); Adam Tillcock (Nottinghamshire); Andrew Umeed (Warwickshire); Alex Wakely (Northamptonshire); Chris Wood (Hampshire)
Matthew Maynard (Head Coach); Ian Harvey (Coach); Paul Nixon (Coach); Dean Conway (Physiotherapist); Mark Garaway (Personality Profiling); Jamie Dalrymple (Coach/Speaker); Mike Fatkin (Trustee/Speaker); Richard Green (Kit Sponsor); Andy House (Sport Europe, Local Contact); Martyn Ryan (Trust Chairman)
NB A huge thank you to La Manga Photos for the picture