The thwack of willow on leather has been part of sporting history at St Andrew’s since its earliest days, with cricket a part of the sports programme since 1918.
Until the early 2000s, the College had produced a creditable 14 first class players. But since 2002, something special has happened, says Head of Cricket, Mike Johnston. “We’ve more than doubled those numbers over the last 16 years, producing 16 first class players including four internationals. It is a fantastic record.”
Current Black Cap Henry Nicholls (OC 2009) is the College’s most high profile current player, with Peter Borren (OC 2001) the current captain of the Netherlands team. The most recent Old Collegian to have achieved first class honours is Llewellyn Johnson (OC 2017), a member of the 2017 First XI, who played a handful of 20/20 matches for Otago this season.
Mike is in his 18th year coaching at St Andrew’s, and is no stranger to representative cricket himself, having played for Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Country and Canterbury A. He also played for a few seasons in England and Australia. He gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing former St Andrew’s players achieve on the biggest cricketing stages. “It’s great to see players develop during Years 9–13 at the College, then go on to represent Canterbury or New Zealand. However the biggest buzz I get is seeing the guys carry on playing cricket, and enjoying the game.”
Enjoyment continues to be a big part of the vision of StAC’s popular cricket programme, he says. “We try to create an environment where the players can develop their skills and enjoy playing cricket, while working hard, training smart, and playing fair.”
Players in all age groups are catered for, from the Preparatory School up to First XI level. “We try to put a lot of resources into our Year 9 teams to give them the tools to develop their talents and provide a clear pathway towards the First XI.”
This year two girls’ teams have played in a Thursday competition, with the aim to foster and develop more girls into the sport. Good quality outside coaches are sourced to support the cricket programme, with parent involvement at games another big part of its success. St Andrew’s College cricket teams are regularly at the top in interschool competitions, with the First XI winning 11 titles in the last 17 years. Our Year 10 Boys and Preparatory School First XI teams have also had an outstanding season. The Year 10 team finished third at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Junior Cricket finals, played between the top six junior teams in New Zealand, while the Preparatory School First XI are Christchurch Junior School Champions and have qualified for the Canterbury Regional finals in Term 4.
Mike says many of the College’s first class players return to St Andrew’s to ‘have a yarn’, including Henry Nicholls who has been in a couple of times to talk to current players. “The Old Cols love coming back and being involved again.”
* Staff member Struan George also played for Canterbury.
StAC’s International representatives