Monday, 27 September 2021

Best boy batsman in Britain

A TEENAGER from Wargrave has been named the country’s best schoolboy batsman.

A TEENAGER from Wargrave has been named the country’s best schoolboy batsman.

Oscar Gutierrez, 17, of School Lane, received the Walter Lawrence Schools Award after hitting 134 against Marylebone CC in June while playing for Leighton Park School in Reading.

He was captaining his team when he made the knock, the highest ever score by a schoolboy against the MCC.

The visitors had declared on 254 for 2 but Oscar earned his side a respectable draw after they reached 206 for 9 thanks to his innings, which came off just 98 balls and included 19 fours and four sixes.

This feat earned him the award, which was presented to him by MCC president and former England Test cricketer Roger Knight at a dinner in the Long Room at Lord’s. His prize included a medallion and a new Gray-Nicolls bat.

Oscar was born in France and lived in America and Thailand before moving to Wargrave with his parents Pete, who works for an energy drinks company, and Sue, a marketing director, and 15-year-old sister Anna.

A keen sportsman, he also plays rugby for Henley Hawks colts and his school, captains his school football team, is a cross-country running champion and coaches juniors at Wargrave Tennis Club.

He decided to take up cricket while at Crosfields Primary School in Reading and has since represented Wargrave and Berkshire.

Oscar said: “I’ve been playing cricket for six or seven years now.

“I’ve always been keen on sport and trying out new ones but I lived in other countries as a child and never got the chance to play cricket.

“At first I was good at bowling but rubbish at batting. I thought it would be more fun to be a batsman so I worked on it to get better. I still bowl a bit now but I’m not good enough to bowl for my club.”

Oscar says that he now plays so much sport that he was dropped from the Berkshire side after missing trials to play in a rugby match.

However, he continued to represent his school, which hosts an annual fixture against the MCC each summer.

Oscar said: “This year was my second match against them and I didn’t have fond memories because they would always come along and beat us convincingly.

“We always bowl first and this time both of their openers got centuries. Then they got tired and decided to put us in.

“They set out a generous field to be fair but I was focusing on not getting out. I tried not to overthink it and their players were very encouraging, not hostile like some teams can be.

“When I reached my century I thought ‘thank God that’s over’. It had been quite stressful and after that I just wanted to get as many runs as I could.”

Oscar said it was “surreal” to score only his second-ever century following a previous ton in a Twenty20 match for Berkshire.

More than 175 people attended the black-tie event at Lord’s, where there were three other awards for the fastest century in first class cricket, the highest woman’s score and the highest university batsman’s score. The evening was hosted by former Kent and England cricketer Matthew Fleming, nephew of James Bond author Ian Fleming, and was attended by former players and public figures including Earl Spencer. Oscar said: “I’ve been to Lord’s once before with school when we met Alistair Cook but I’d never seen a match or been in the Long Room.

“Matthew Fleming met us beforehand and gave us a tour of the building and changing rooms.

“It was quite nerve-wracking when I got the award. I had to make a speech in front of all the guests, some of whom had paid a lot of money to attend!”

The MCC, which was founded in 1787, wrote the original laws of cricket and was the forerunner to both the International Cricket Council and Test and County Cricket Board.

It plays regular fixtures against about 100 schools all over the country during the cricket season as well as a traditional curtain-raiser against the reigning county champions in April.

Mark Simmons, senior master and former PE teacher at Leighton Park School, said: “Oscar has done really well.

“We punch above our weight in sport as a school but for us to have a student who has achieved this award is something quite special.

“He really applied himself at the start of his innings and realised patience can reap rewards.

“I think Oscar would say rugby is his favourite sport, followed by football. He’s a really talented sportsman and that’s part of his problem — like lots of talented kids, he found himself in a clashing position.”

Despite his busy sporting schedule, Oscar says he is determined to keep playing cricket and is even targeting matches on the other side of the world.

He said: “I’d like to play when I go to university and I’m also taking a gap year so if I go to Australia or New Zealand I can try to pick it up there too.”

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