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Pupils travel to Zimbabwe with Warwickshire County Cricket Club

Pupils travel to Zimbabwe with Warwickshire County Cricket Club

During February half term, KES Cricketers Yusuf Khalil and Sinel Gunarathne travelled to Zimbabwe with Warwickshire County Cricket Clubs Academy as part of a pre-season tour. Both boys had a fantastic trip and even managed to meet some of the local wildlife on their travels.

To find out what the boys got up to, Sinel wrote a daily blog during his trip: 

Day 1 – Friday 17 February 

Landed in Zimbabwe after quite a long flight, first going to Ethiopia then to Zambia and finally to the Robert Mugabe airport in Zimbabwe. The temperatures were beautiful and we hoped it remained the same for the rest of the tour. We settled into our hotel and it seemed like a really nice environment.

Day 2 – Saturday 18 February

Our first day of training! It was really exciting to train today but unfortunately at the start of the day it began to rain quite heavily so we could not use the outdoor facilities straight away. We went indoors and that was a challenge in itself. The surface was incredibly variable but this was a good test to see how as a batsman you can adapt and adjust to difficult conditions. Of course, you are not going to be successful immediately but with perseverance and overall discipline you can succeed.

Later on in the day once the weather had cleared up we went to an outdoor net and this was the first time for me batting outside on a real pitch since September; I was ready for the challenge! It was a really enjoyable net, facing the pace bowlers first and immediately you could see a stark difference in comparison to the morning with the ball keeping low and not coming onto the bat as much. This was all white ball training for our T20s so main focused was batting with a real positive intent and grooving those shots that we’ve been playing inside to then emulate it onto a real pitch where you get a lot more lateral movement.

After a couple of hours of batting and bowling we moved onto a fielding circuit. This was really enjoyable as it is something that I thrive and succeed in and once you have the confidence in yourself in the field, the next step is to drive and push your teammates and make them and yourself set incredibly high standards. This can be by attacking the ball at a high pace with real intent and even if there is a fumble or “mistake” we as a team do not care at all as we were doing the right things; this motto is what we as Warwickshire thrive ourselves on.

Day 3 – Sunday 19 February 

Match day 1: Cancelled both T20s due to heavy rain. We still managed to hit some balls in the nets and bowl quite a lot, so at least we still got something out of the day.

Day 4 – Monday 20 February 

Match day 1: Zimbabwe under-19s

It was a spin only game with the run ups being absolutely drenched. I captained both games and we batted first. I opened in the powerplay and tried to go hard early on targeting boundaries whilst still trying to adjust to the pitch at the same time. Unfortunately got yorked by a good ball in the process but set a good intent for the team to try and emulate and that we did; setting a very competitive total of 170.

Managing bowlers was always going to be tricky, having 2 main spinners and 3 part time spinners and after getting hit quite badly in the powerplay, Dani and I slowed the game down quite a bit and dragged it back. I took 2 wickets and he took 2 and by the time our 2 main spinners came on we were bowling at the tail and we wrapped up the innings very comfortably and won that first game.

Second game

Yusuf was going to captain but unfortunately hurt his hip flexor in the first game so I captained again. We bowled first and our main bowlers did really well; restricting them for only 30 odd in the first 6. Then I came onto bowl and had some decent 2 overs bowling both offies and leggies but then in my 3rd and 4th over I really did have a stinker. After getting hit for a couple of sixes and missing my length both full and short it really was a tough period for me personally but had to quickly put that behind me and focus on the present and what I can do as captain and for the team. They eventually closed innings out on 180. I came in at 4 and didn’t have to do much for a couple of balls as my teammate at the other end was playing some ridiculous shots. But after he got out moving into the middle overs it slowed down a bit. In order to get that run rate up, I decided to target the bowler with a right arm off spinner:

First ball was a 6 – a really good and strong shot that travelled the distance over cow.
Second ball was a 6 – bowler pulled his length back a bit and I hit it to deep midwicket.
Third ball was out – bowler bowled it a bit wider and because of this I tried to go over extra cover but with the turn I missed it and got bowled in the process.

An over or 2 later, we came off because of rain and didn’t manage to get back on.

Day 5 – Tuesday 21 February 

Match day 2: against Peterhouse

Yusuf captained, we bowled first. Immediately the standard was not as good as the previous game we played but that didn’t mean we dropped ours. We bowled them out for 99 in the 14th over but let them bat again to get to 135. Yusuf opened batting with real intent and scoring some early boundaries but then falling. Then came myself who edged one off a spinner to short third man trying to go over the top. We rebuilt and went passed 99 with relative ease but fell short to the 135 by good bowling but also poor shots.

Second game: against Hellenic Academy

I captained this game and this was under lights which was a really great environment. I batted 8 but I got to see some really incredible batting from out 2 openers who scored close to 100 runs in the first 6 overs. I came and scored some quick runs, timing the ball really nice and just as I was about to go large in last 4 overs, I pulled a short ball off a spinner straight to midwicket; another shame and tame ending with how confident and well I was batting. We set 220 on the board and with our bowling attack I felt extremely confident. A single batsmen put up resistance but I was really proud with the way I captained that game and I thought my tactical decisions were spot on.

Day 6 – Wednesday 22 February

On our final day we went to a safari park. It was an early rise (4:30am!) but well worth it for a once in a lifetime experience seeing cheetahs, rhinos, elephants and many more. It was an experience I will never forget!

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