New Beacon named in top 50 cricketing schools

The Cricketer magazine has published its Schools Guide 2021, featuring the top 50 junior schools including The New Beacon in Sevenoaks.

It follows an exhaustive process which saw a record number of schools submit entries to be included in the guide, despite the ongoing pandemic. All entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, which included a compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching.

The Cricketer magazine editor Simon Hughes said: “This year’s Schools Guide is particularly important in showcasing our schools who have kept the game alive through a very challenging summer. Whether it has been remote video sessions, drills in the garden or even Zoom quizzes, schools cricket has emerged resolutely from this pandemic and the appetite to get back out on the playing fields is palpable.

“There should be deserved praise for all the teachers, coaches and volunteers who have put in so much hard work, in the most difficult of circumstances, to preserve a love of the game among the next generation.

The New Beacon School, Sevenoaks, has a long, strong, fine cricketing heritage. An archive photograph shows Siegfried and Hamo Sassoon in the 1st XI after they won the West Kent Prep Schools League Cup in 1901. More recently the school has won regional and national competitions. The U11 XI has reached the final of the Kent Summers Cup every year this century emerging triumphant for the last nine consecutive years (bar 2020 with no play!). The U12 team regularly wins regional tournaments taking the team through to national competition at 13+ often playing against grammar schools selecting from at least four times as many players. The 1st XI were national champions in the Jet competition in 2007 and finalists in 2011.

This past summer has also seen two former New Beacon pupils hitting the headlines playing for Kent County Cricket Club and England.

Sam Billings left The New Beacon in 2004 moving to Haileybury College with an all-rounder scholarship. He played regularly for Kent from 2014 and was made captain in 2018. Sam was called to play his first ODI and Twenty20 games for England against New Zealand in 2015. He made his first international ODI century this summer against Australia finding more success with the bat and is a wicketkeeper in waiting for England. Sam visited The New Beacon four years ago to give an inspiring coaching session to the boys and to present a bat to one of our pupils who had scored a century in a 1st XI match.

Zak Crawley left The New Beacon in 2011, moving to that famous cricketing school, Tonbridge, with a Cowdrey sports scholarship. He had captained The New Beacon side which was runner up to Millfield in the national final in 2011. He played for Kent from age 13 and made his senior debut in 2017, just three years ago. At The New Beacon, Zak was known for his precision and focus on technique with the bat, something which has clearly catapulted him to top of the order in the England test team. A highlight this summer for all cricket lovers was witnessing Zak’s 267 against Pakistan – the second highest maiden test century ever for England.

While we have these extraordinarily talented former pupils competing at international level, cricket is enjoyed by all at The New Beacon. The school often fields four or five teams in each year group. 58 boys (9-13 years of age) are members of local cricket clubs, notably Holmesdale and Sevenoaks Vine. 20 are playing district cricket with two at Invicta and one on the Kent pathway.

As with everything at The New Beacon, expectations are high. Coaching is both rigorous and progressive. Once the basics have been mastered with the bat and with a solid grounding, boys are taught more modern techniques with the higher back lift, faster hands and playing such strokes as the reverse sweep, hitting to different areas of the ground.

Sadly, this summer term not a ball was bowled – by a team which had the potential to reach the national finals once again. In the absence of cricket, the original 1900 pavilion was refurbished in preparation for next season.

To enquire about The New Beacon please contact Alison Harrison on 01732 452131 or email ahn@newbeacon.org.uk.