Students from the Aldridge Cricket Academy have returned from a tour of Dubai that gave them a unique insight into life and playing in in the United Arab Emirates.
The fifteen BACA and PACA students were accompanied by Academy Cricket Director Alexia Walker, Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Chave, and former Sussex player John Spencer, who acted as the Tour Ambassador. As well as playing three matches the squad visited the Zayed Grand Mosque, the Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Centre and took in a Pakistan Super League Twenty20 fixture.
BACA year 13 student Finley Coddington said: “The best part of the cricket on the tour was experiencing new conditions and facing new bowlers that challenged me in different ways. I learned how to play in different conditions and adapt to them quickly”
“The best cultural experience was learning how the Emiratis felt towards the rest of the world and how different they were to the ones that are shown in the press.”
The ACA team narrowly lost their opening 35-over game against fellow tourists Reigate Grammar School at the Dubai Sevens Ground, enduring the frustration of both losing by 1 wicket off the last ball and of their first cricket match in the desert being rain affected!
They bounced back to beat Zayed Academy in their second game. 3-3 for right arm spinner Charley Hepburn, who plays for Sussex Under 17 girls, and 47* from left-hand bat Will Sheffield, helped them reach their winning target 176-9 in 36 overs. Sadly the final match against Grand Masters Cricket Academy, Sharjah at Skyline University saw the kind of mid innings collapse on a slow turner that England cricket fans have become used to in recent years, and the ACA lost by four wickets.
Finley Thomson said: “Every game was different. When we identified what we needed to do to give ourselves the best chance of winning, there was always something new that we hadn’t discussed in the previous games. It was very different from the kind of cricket we play back home, which gives the tour all the more value.”
“The mosque was incredible, an extremely unique building, and the cultural understanding was so enlightening. It showed how little we understood prior to this.”
Summing up the tour Alexia Walker said: “Our second ACA tour was a tremendous success both on and off the pitch. Yet again, the players worked tirelessly to prepare themselves for tour, to acquit themselves well to the new conditions and above all be wonderful ambassadors for the academies. The team will have learned a lot from playing against strong sides in the same conditions in which the England, Australian, New Zealand and South African Test teams have struggled in recent years.”