Some of the best young cricketers from across the country were recently welcomed by the Royal Hospital School (RHS), Ipswich, for the annual Minor Counties Cricket Festival.
Fourteen teams competed in what has long since been a highlight of the junior cricket calendar, catering to both under-11 and under-12 sides.
RHS has hosted the event since 1999, which was organised this year by former Essex and Surrey pace bowler, Don Topley.
His son, Reece, was a pupil at the school before going on to embark upon a fine cricketing career in his own right, appearing for England in both one-day internationals (ODI) and T20.
“Youth cricket has been mightily affected these last two years by Covid, and moving forward one hopes that festivals like this will ignite a passion for more young cricketers,” said Don.
“We were all extremely proud to watch the teams, filled with the very best cricketers for their age group, scoring many runs and taking many wickets.”
Reece Topley attended on the festival’s closing day to hand out the awards to the winners. Happily, his appearance followed in the wake of his finest showing for the England ODI side, when the second match of the series against India saw him take six wickets for 24 runs and claim his first five-wicket haul at international level.
“It was particularly special that one of our former pupils was able to break his busy England schedule to present the prizes,” said Sophy Walker, director of marketing and communications at RHS.
“We are really proud to have hosted the [festival], allowing talented young cricketers the opportunity to compete at a regional level in their age groups.
“It must have been one of the hottest festivals of the past 23 years, but all the competitors coped admirably, aided by the cooling breeze that comes off the River Stour onto the school’s glorious grounds.”
Pic: Reece Topley hands out awards to the winners