spirit of cricket - Cricket in Schools
“Cricket provides comradery, enjoyment, and sense of achievement that cannot be matched in the classroom. It’s one of the main reasons why I love teaching after all these years.”
East Hills Boys High School in Sydney’s south-west is an extreme example of how a school can be a nursery for great cricket talent.
Among its alumni East Hills boasts a ‘Who’s Who’ of NSW cricket with former national captain Steve Waugh AO, his brothers Mark AM, and Dean (NSW and South Australia), Ben Rohrer (Australia T20 representative), Wayne Holdsworth (1993 Ashes tourist), Corey Richards (NSW and Scotland), and Tanveer Sangha (Sydney Thunder and NSW).
While boasting players of such calibre ensured East Hills became a powerhouse in the sport, there’s other schools that are just as proud of their achievements on the pitch including Gulargambone Central in the state’s north-west which boasts just 80 kids (from kindergarten to Year 12) – of which 75 percent identify as Indigenous.
However, through the efforts of their teacher, Brett Ryan, cricket has provided the school with a sense of identity and a common passion.
“I grew up idolising blokes like Dennis Lillee and the late Rod Marsh,” said Ryan. “So, I’ve always loved playing and watching cricket, and from a coaching/teaching perspective I love passing on the knowledge and appreciation of the game to students.
“I know many will develop the same sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from playing our great game. When coaching, there are so many batting, bowling, and fielding skills that need to be taught - and these can make an ordinary team into a great team, while a well-coached team will beat a team of individuals.”
With just 20 secondary students, the younger students are often pitted against the bigger children in their schoolyard matches. It’s due to this reason Ryan, who has taught for 31-years, maintains cricket is more suited to his school than any of the football codes.
“These guys, both boys and girls, love cricket and play it before, during and after school,” he said. “Because many of our students are small in stature, cricket suits them perfectly and they can match it with much bigger students and schools.
“Being a Central School is also a great advantage for the primary students because the secondary students never take it easy on them - which they love - so they’re always mixing it with tough opposition.”
Because of school’s scarce numbers, its senior team often contains primary school students, and Gulargambone has used this on match day to psyche out the region’s bigger schools.
“Over the years our tradition whenever we have an ‘away’ game is to send the smaller kids on the first bus,” he said. “We have witnessed many schools laughing at the size of the opposition as they get off the bus . . . but more often than not they’re not laughing at the end of the match!”
While the students love playing cricket, Ryan credits the sport for ensuring he’s remained passionate about his job.
“Cricket has provided – and continues to provide - a level of comradery, enjoyment, and achievement that simply cannot be matched in the classroom,” he enthused. “It is one of the main reasons why I still love teaching after 31 years at our great school."