Cricket in England - post Switzerland

by James Harper

Following the article last year on ex-Swiss boys – Ethan and Owen playing “Down Under”, current Basel Dragons coach Pete Veal invited James Harper (ex-Basel Dragons Coach) to write about the experiences of Tom (former U11 Bob Barber winner) his brother Ben and sister Sophie in UK. Again a huge plus for Swiss cricket and great to see them doing so well!

Swiss Cricket set an excellent foundation for the Harper kids and having moved back to England their cricket has gone from strength to strength.

Sophie bowling for the Basel Nightfuries at Zuoz 2015
Sophie bowling for the Nightfuries at Zuoz 2015

Ben, Sophie and Thomas moved to Basel from California in 2009 having grown up on a diet of Baseball and Softball and expecting a short 2 year stay in Switzerland before heading back to the sunshine. Well that certainly didn’t go according to plan and 10 years later they are now in the UK and taking every opportunity to play as much cricket as they can handle thanks to Swiss Cricket!

 

With the all-year-round nature of cricket in Switzerland coupled with a focus on quality coaching, all three kids arrived in England after 6 years in Basel, with very solid techniques that has served them well.

Sophie 3 years later bowling for Suffolk U17
Sophie 3 years later bowling for Suffolk U17

Sophie in particular arrived at a very opportune time with Girls Cricket really gaining in popularity and now being offered at schools instead of rounders. She quickly established a name for herself, even playing a couple of fixtures for the School 1st XI and subsequently has gone on to represent Suffolk at U13, U15, U17 and last season played for the Suffolk Ladies, taking 4 wickets on debut.

 

There still remains a large gulf between County Cricket and the emerging Ladies Professional game with the Kia Super League but Sophie is determined to try and make a go of it. Her performances have not gone un-noticed with selection for the East Region Academy in 2018/19 and recently she played at an Indoor Tournament for the Loughborough Sparks, the Academy side of the Lightnings.

Tom bowling for Suffolk U15
Tom bowling for Suffolk U15

Thomas has also built on the form he first showed for Basel Dragons and Switzerland, representing the School 1st XI in Year 8 and breaking into his County age group at U14 level. Tom had an impressive 2018 season for the county with both bat and ball and was named Youth Player of the Season across all age groups. He has been selected for a Winter Spin Clinic at Essex and is thoroughly enjoying the regular sessions learning the fine art of spin bowling.

Not to be out done by his younger siblings Ben has also progressed considerably and is now captain of Woodbridge School 1st XI, where he opens the batting and bowls leg-spin. He won the Harper Cricket Cup (donated by his grandfather to the school in 1994) and plays club cricket for Easton 1st XI in the Two Counties League (Essex and Suffolk).

 

James has also dusted off his spikes and in 2018 captained the Easton 2nd XI to promotion to Div 5 of the Two Counties League!

James Harper (first row, centre) pictured with Easton CC 2nd XI
James Harper (first row, centre) pictured with Easton CC 2nd XI

The Basel Dragons and Swiss Cricket in general served the Harper family very well and we all have very fond memories of the Indoor Tournaments and in particular the Zuoz Festival in May.