Cricket is a traditional summer sport and, according to an Active Sport England survey in 2021, it is the second-most popular sport overall behind football. For most independent schools in the UK, it has always been the core sport for boys in the Summer term.
While it has historically been regarded a male sport, there is a growth in women’s cricket and a rising number of schools offering dedicated girls' cricket programmes. The traditional girls’ summer sport of rounders has been replaced with cricket as school support a global message that there is no such thing as a ‘male’ sport.
With all eyes on the 2023 Ashes series at the moment, WhichSchoolAdvisor counts down the best UK independent schools for boys’ and girls’ cricket.
Located in Surrey, which is home to many a picturesque pitch on the village green, Charterhouse has a well-regarded cricket programme – and The Green is one of the prettiest grounds in the south-east. There is plenty of cricketing history here dating back to 1859, when Charterhouse played against Marlborough College. It also hosted a John Player league game in 1972 between Warwickshire and Surrey.
Cricket is one of the core sports at Charterhouse, played during the summer term known also known as the Cricket Quarter. The school fields as many as 14 teams every Saturday, such is the popularity of the sport here. The sport is played by both boys and girls, who have access to indoor and outdoor net facilities, with bowling machines, as well as seven pitches. There’s coaching from both current cricket players and ex-internationals.
Framlingham College is located in the rural county of Suffolk, and has a great reputation for both boys’ and girls’ cricket. It also offers year-round cricket, with every student given the opportunity to train and play cricket every week of the school year.
There’s huge interest in the game, with the school fielding as many as 40 teams across the year groups – and a large number of these reaching the final of the county cup. Students train and play in mixed teams of boys and girls, and there’s a mixed year-group team, the Albert XI, who play long-format games against touring representative sides.
Facilities include five grass cricket grounds, grass and artificial nets with bowling machines and mobile cages, and two floodlit Astro pitches for match practice. When wet weather stops play, there are five lane and two-lane net systems in the school’s two sports halls.
Jack Beaumont, Framlingham’s Head Of Cricket, says:
“The cricket culture here is flourishing: all pupils are enthusiastically encouraged to participate and develop a lifelong love of the game, while extra opportunities for ‘stretch & challenge’ are made available for those with still more serious ambitions in the sport.”
There’s a strong cricketing culture at this boarding and day school in Berkshire, where girls cricket is on the rise. Bradfield College fields 13 boys’ teams and there are currently four girls’ teams, all playing matches against local schools.
Students can practice their cricketing abilities throughout the year in one-to-one training sessions, so they are well-prepared for the start of school fixtures and matches in the summer term. As one of the school’s core sports, cricket is played by all students, both boys and girls, during the summer; there are regular training sessions and weekly fixtures.
Facilities include The Pit, which was created from an old chalk quarry in 1927 and is widely regarded as one of the most stunning cricket grounds in the country. Head of Cricket performance at Bradfield is former Nottinghamshire player and Kent CCC, Rob Ferley, who heads a team of advanced coaches and cricketers.
There’s a long list of Old Bradfieldians to have made it onto the professional cricket circuit, which include former Hampshire captain and broadcaster, Mark Nicholas. Most recently, the success of the girls’ cricket programme is being realised; former Bradfield student and cricketer Lauren Bell won her first test cap against South Africa in 2022.
A great fit for any students with cricketing ambition, Millfield is a selective day and boarding school in Somerset for boys and girls aged 2-18. Millfield is well known for its outstanding sports programmes, and cricket is certainly one of its strengths. Alumni include cricketers Sam Young, Kasey Aldridge and Lewis Goldsworth.
The school fields over 17 boys’ teams, and there’s a growing girls’ cricket programme. The girls’ programme has two squads (U15s and Senior) which includes county fixtures and matches against Somerset, Wales, universities and MCC Ladies’ teams. There is also an annual summer cricket camp and a Spin Bowling Academy, with coaching from September-March by former International Spinner, Peter Such.
Students benefit from the expertise and experience of the school’s head cricket coach Mark Garaway, who was an England Assistant Coach and a director in Irish Cricket. He oversees a High-Performance Programme, which currently has 53 boys and girls who are county age group, county academy, regional and international cricketers on the programme. It’s not only about elite players, though. Millfield’s cricket programme sees 350 boys and girls of all ages and abilities attending Open and Cricket Club sessions
Facilities include an outstanding indoor cricket centre with Pitch Vision technology on three lanes, a 4G fielding area, three adaptable bowling and batting surfaces, as well as five nets and an expansive 22 metre run-up.
Downe House is an all-girls’ independent school in Thatcham for 11-18-year-olds, and it has been counted as one of the best all girls’ schools for cricket. The growth in women's cricket at an international level, with tournaments such as the Women's World Cup and the Women's T20 World Cup, have surely contributed to the increased interest in girls' cricket in schools such as Downe House. It is refreshing to see an all-girls school being recognised for its cricketing achievements.
While cricket is still a fairly new sport on the Downe House sports curriculum, it has become very popular amongst the girls here. Facilities on campus are limited to Flicx wicket nets, but the girls also train at the local West Ilsey Cricket Club.
The sport has been driven by self-confessed cricket-mad and PE teacher Tash Bott, who wants it to be one of the leading summer sports at Downe House – to rival tennis and athletics! She says: “Our pupils have risen to the challenge of a new sport brilliantly and I am excited that together we are forging a new cricketing tradition at the school”.
Malvern College has a long history of coaching young cricketers to play County Cricket, and its strong links with Worcestershire County Cricket Club offers students a wide range of opportunities within the sport. There are teams for both girls and boys aged 13-18.
There’s a scholarship programme which offers students one-to-one coaching throughout the Lent term with either the Master in Charge of Cricket, professional or Worcestershire CCC coaches. Many scholars are also involved with either the Worcestershire Academy Programme or Emerging Players Programmes.
The Chesterton Cricket Scholarship recognises outstanding talent and potential in cricket, and is a means tested award of up to 50% of fees. The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Cricket Scholarship for Girls recognises talent and potential in girls’ cricket and is worth 20% of the boarding or day fee.
Alumni include players for Yorkshire CCC, and Worcestershire CCC.