Fresh off the plane from his tour of the West Indies where he scored two 100s in the Pakistan Test Winning side, it was a pleasure to welcome Azhar Ali back to the school on Wednesday. Azhar had a couple of days off before joining up with the Pakistan one day side at their training base in Birmingham, but kindly agreed to give up some time to offer our own touring squad some advice ahead of their pre-season tour to Barbados, West Indies next Easter.
The lucky squad of 8 girls and 15 boys will play four games against schools, clubs and development sides at Netball and Cricket and will also enjoy a jeep safari, catamaran cruise and trip to Harrison's Caves.
Azhar talked about his experience in Jamaica and Barbados and congratulated the staff on choosing his favourite island to take the boys and girls. Azhar shared some behind the scene stories of some of the great sportsmen that he had played with - like Younis Khan insisting that the fastest bowler in the nets bowled at him. He talked about Joe Root, an idol for all our boys, and how humble he was. This was something that the children took on board and reflected on later!
Bethan asked Azhar about his favourite and least favourite things abut being on tour. Azhar reported that he enjoyed the opportunity to tour the world and see some amazing countries, but found it hard to be away from home all the time. He said that the pupils should make the most of this amazing opportunity.
Nicholas asked what we would could expect from the Barbados pitches. Azhar said that Pakistan had found the pitches to be much lower and slower than they are reputed to be and that this made it difficult to score runs. He reinforced the importance of players learning to play in all conditions.
Travelling away on tour to any location is a great experience for any child, the team spirit, understanding of another location and maturity that the children always return with is great to see. We now start our training programme and our search for sponsors to cover the cost of the playing kits.Azhar Ali, Pakistan Test Cricketer
As a school we have been lucky to have benefited from Azhar Ali’s support and advice on a couple of occasions this year and we wish him and his team well for the upcoming Champions Trophy Tournament here in England later this month. He kindly signed a Barbados flag for the team to take away with them, for which we thank him very much.James Barton, Head of Boarding and Boys' Games