Author: Andrew Petrie
England versus Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, 1996. The first time in cricket Test match history that a game was drawn. Not even Nick Knight’s batting performance could rescue England’s chances of victory.
Sometimes, things just aren’t meant to be but that doesn’t mean we forget the heroics that went into trying to save the result. This has been the story recently for the DESS cricket team, who have seen two recent results go down to the final few balls.
"We have had some amazing games over the past few weeks,” confirmed Mark Webster, Head of PE at the Dubai English Speaking School. “I love it when the matches are close, and the children can sense the drama. It is what attracts us all to sport and makes it a thrill for the children competing.
“In the close games that have come down to the last over, or even the last ball on a few occasions the children are initially disappointed if they didn't win, but soon feel pride to have been part of such an exciting encounter. As a teacher it is simply about highlighting the wonderful performances to ensure the love for the game is enhanced.”
Webster’s passion for cricket has clearly rubbed off on the children. He has been there for three years and has seen more children competing each year: “Cricket is a hugely popular game at DESS with over 100 children training every week from Years 3 to 6. The school leagues have over 30 schools competing so every year the competition gets stronger and more children are actively engaged in the sport.”
That engagement certainly pays off according to Webster, as the pupils move on to play sport at secondary school. “At DESS we are very lucky that the majority of our children go onto DESC after they finish Year 6,” said Webster. “We get the opportunity to see them move up the years and continue to flourish at the secondary school. The facilities at DESC are second to none here in Dubai so they have all to tools to continue to play and improve at cricket.”
The cricket season is just starting up in Dubai – but temperatures are already hitting the high 30s. Webster praised the pupils: “The children are incredibly resilient and have the opportunity for multiple water breaks.
“This year the league has been condensed due to the Ramadan start date and the heat,” he continued. “Next year we hope to reduce this problem by starting cricket towards the end of term 2 to allow a good amount of cricket to be played before Ramadan and before the heat really kicks in.”
Resilience and determination is clearly something the DESS cricket team has in abundance, continuing to battle until the end. Webster agreed: “Determination is coachable, but with some children there is an inner drive and a will to excel. Often the children with the biggest will to achieve are also the most resilient and are able to put defeat into context.
“They are often able to reflect on what went well and also the areas they need to develop to improve. As a coach it’s vital to encourage children to reflect on their performances, both good or indifferent, so they have the tools to improve.”
It certainly seems like all is in place to give the kids at DESS a veritable toolbox to improve their game. GYS wishes good luck to Mr Webster and the cricket team for the rest of the season!