During the Easter holiday, thirty-seven pupils and six members of staff embarked on a trip of a lifetime – the Cricket Tour to Barbados.
Two years on from having the same tour cancelled just ten days before we were due to travel due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we were excited by the renewed prospect of an overseas tour. But travelling with a large contingent of school cricket players and their kit bags is logistically challenging at the best of times, and pandemic era travel added extra layers of complexity.
Fit-to-fly tests were still required for travel to Barbados, and on the day before departure two pupils tested positive. Luckily, after an anxious wait, the results turned out to be false-positives, and with a full set of negative tests in hand, we were all allowed to board. Then there was the two hour delay on the runway while baggage handlers loaded hefty cricket bags for the three big tour groups on the plane, and while waiting on the plane, three members of the touring party received emails saying their vaccine status had been declined and they would have to quarantine for five days on arrival. Their worry was only relieved on arrival when their vaccine status was not questioned, after all.
Our first morning was spent settling in and exploring. We then went to the Franklyn Stevenson Academy ground for an afternoon training session. Franklyn is a former professional cricketer for Barbados, Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and Sussex and has a great set up coaching local talented kids. It was a great venue for our first taste of cricket on the Island. Grass nets and fielding on the outfield allowed us to experience how different the cricket conditions are in Barbados. We could already tell that this was going to be a trip with lots of tough cricket and learning curves.
Over four game days, three squads clocked a total of twelve well played matches.
Full reports of all the matches are detailed here: Match Reports
During the week, the group enjoyed the Caribbean lifestyle and hospitality. At Oistin’s Fish Fry we had some of the freshest fried fish Barbados has to offer, with a choice of marlin, mahi-mahi, flying fish, swordfish and tuna. We were also treated to a passionate rendition of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ by a group of our Fourth Formers at a karaoke stand.
On the mid-week rest day, we toured the Kensington Oval which is steeped in history. It was a fascinating insight into the history of West Indian Cricket and was also great to watch the Barbados Royals, the professional team for Barbados, training. At the Boatyard we enjoyed an afternoon of beach activities.
One evening was generously hosted by Wanderers CC, where the touring party of 32 family members also joined us for a lavish BBQ and steel pannist entertainment.
Our final game day was capped by the Harbour Lights Beach Extravaganza for a magnificent display of local entertainment.
The last day of the tour was a rest day spent on a catamaran cruise. Anchoring at the beautiful Sandy Lane resort was a high, and watching the racehorses go for their daily swim in the sea was a first.
Our final duty was to host the tour court session, which we had been keeping a note of throughout the week. Each squad held their own court sessions which generated some great laughs and team comradery. The total amount collected from the tour court was £270, which the group decided would go towards helping one of the talented local players who we had met during the week buy some much needed equipment.
After cramming so much into such a short space of time, a relaxing final morning allowed everyone a chance to soak up the last few hours of Caribbean sun and get ready for the final leg back to Oundle.
Head of Cricket