The Playing Fields of England
A guide to the summer game's top 100 schools
Entries are now closed for 2019.
Thanks to all the schools who entered, it is truly encouraging to see so many excellent cricket programmes up and down the country.
The Cricketer will be for the fourth time publishing its annual guide to the top 100 cricketing schools; The Playing Fields of England. The publication, which will appear as a supplement with The Cricketer on sale in November, is meticulously researched by our editorial team and entries are judged by a panel of experts, who will compile the list of the top 100. The guide has proven incredibly popular, with more than 250 secondary schools entering last year. Last year's edition can be read above.
The compilation of this guide involves an extensive editorial push to log, collate and then list the schools that deliver the best coaching, facilities, results, fixture lists and environment to encourage young people’s enjoyment and participation in cricket.
We are also pleased to announce that this year’s guide will also feature, for the first time, a guide to the top 50 junior/prep schools in the country, making it a complete guide to schools’ cricket in the UK. This follows demand from our readers, pupils, parents and the wider cricket community.
2018 | Girls are the emerging force in schools cricket
It has been a very rewarding and uplifting experience judging this supplement. There were so many excellent entries it was really tough keeping it to 100. There were many other establishments that deserved to be included. It is reassuring to see so many schools, and their staff, putting this much effort into producing the next generation of players.
Particularly noticeable was the growth of the women’s game. Where, a year ago, there were girls’ teams here and there, now many schools are running them at all age groups. My own daughter’s (mixed) school – Emanuel, in south-west London – is a good case study in this respect. When she joined the school in 2012 there was no girls’ cricket at all. She was the only one who played. Three years later there was one under-14 team (captained by her) and she was in the boys’ XI. Now there is a team at every level, and rounders – previously the summer option for girls despite being, in my view, a glorified beach game – has been abolished!
There are nine state schools in this mix, up from eight last year. Small progress but the message is slowly filtering through. Given that half of English first-class cricketers come from private schools and England still can’t seem to find a consistent No.3 batsman it is vital as many schools as possible – of all types – play regular cricket. It is the best way to keep kids away from their devices apart from anything else. All parents would welcome that.
You sense from working on this list that the game, after a decade of decline, is starting to pick up. Although it is true that more and more 12-year-olds want to play the reverse ramp before they learn a forward defence, at least they are having a go, and having fun. As the successful All Stars Cricket initiative really starts to kick in, there will be a host of reverse-sweepers emerging. A redraft of field settings may be required shortly.
The great thing about cricket is it is always evolving. From the early 1700s when the Laws were properly drafted and then a third stump was added, batsmen have always found new ways to make runs and bowlers discovered different methods to dismiss them. The tone is set at school. And those who thought that the highest ever individual score – AEJ Collins’ 628 not out made over four afternoons at Clifton College in 1899 – would never be challenged were finally proved wrong. Mumbai schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade made 1,009 in a match last year. Beat that!