Recent Alumni

Andrew Strauss

Thanks so much to the Western Daily Press for giving permission to use this article, published in their newspaper on 27 August, just after ex-Caldicott boy Andrew Strauss won the Ashes back for England!

The article was based on Philip Spray's memories, when he taught him cricket almost from the beginning. However, so many Caldicott boys will remember Mr Spray as a great Senior Master, Geography teacher, and one who would help anyone! You may see PHS holding the photograph taken when Andrew Strauss came to open our Cententary Hall.

The Western Daily Press

The text of the article on the left:

He has just racked 474 runs as the top batsman and captain that led England to a famous Ashes triumph - but we can reveal Andrew Strauss could be even handier with the ball - or even behind the stumps.

For when Strauss lifted the famous little urn on Monday, the man who first selected him to play for his school remembered him not as a star batsman - but as a record-breaking wicket keeper. Phillip Spray, who lives in the Dorset village of Cerne Abbas, took the young Strauss under his wing when he was a promising, but not extraordinary, young cricketer at prep school in the late 1980s.

But it was not Strauss' ability as a batsman which earned him the man of the series award, that caught his eye. Rather, Mr Spray was impressed by his wicket keeping, something Strauss abandoned long ago.

And if the picture above is anything to go by, it appears he did not mind a bowl either.

Now Cerne Valley Cricket Club coach, Mr Spray recalled selecting Strauss for Caldicott Preparatory School's 1st XI in Buckinghamshire.

"He actually set a record for catches and stumpings.
"He was a small chap but had plenty of energy behind the stumps," he said.

Mr Spray does not always refer to his past encounters with Strauss when coaching today's young cricketers. But he said that many have shown more talent than the England captain did at their age.

It is Strauss' s dedication to the game since he began taking it seriously at 15, though, which Mr Spray thinks is an example for others to follow.

Gentlemanly conduct

He also warms to his gentlemanly conduct on the field and refusal to court media attention.
The England captain's desire for his team to use the 2-1 victory over the Australians as a springboard to become the top side in the world is typical for a man Mr Spray describes as a credit to his parents and past schools, college and university, and he said it is satisfying to think that he might have contributed, even if only very slightly, all those years ago, to England's latest Ashes victory: "It's nice to think that the England captain might have listened to the advice I gave him," he said.

Mr Spray, who went along to the second Ashes test at Lord's, followed the decisive Oval contest on television and radio.

He admitted that he was pessimistic ahead of the fourth day's play, with England still requiring 10 wickets to secure victory.
"You heard everybody saying that it was all over with Australia needing such a marathon score, yet after Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey got going some went quiet," he said.

As Mr Spray was driving home from Cerne Valley's Sunday game at North Perrott, Australia's batsmen began crumbling and it was not long before the celebrations began. Mr Spray said that the 2009 series victory was an excellent achievement but, because of the diminished quality of the two sides and the contest not screened on live terrestrial television, it did not quite create the euphoria that followed the 2005 success.

He said: "It is slightly sad that it is not on regular TV.
"We have a lot of kids who complain that they didn't see any of the cricket live and can't get the highlights.
"The thing in 2005 was that everybody was watching it in every pub and home."

Mr Spray, aged 63, played first-class cricket when representing Oxford University in the 1960s.