Grand Opening of the Julian Hill Cricket Centre

Wednesday 17th April 2024 saw the opening of the Julian Hill Cricket Centre. Our guest of honour, former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss OBE visited to mark the occasion, and declared the new five-lane indoor facility officially open.

Writes Ian McGowan - Director of Cricket

At a celebration attended by supporters of the new centre, Sir Andrew Strauss said, “This new indoor training centre is an outstanding facility and will provide young cricketers with the opportunity to train year-round and hone their skills for success on the pitch. It truly is world-class and will, I am sure, help develop young talent for years to come.” 

As well as providing Merchant Taylors’ cricketers with one of the best school cricket facilities in the country, the new cricket centre will transform indoor cricket provision in the region. The centre is the base for Middlesex County Cricket Club’s indoor training and the School regularly hosts international touring sides.

Middlesex County Cricket Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Cornish, said “The Centre is an elite-level facility, giving our professional players an outstanding base for their pre-season preparations. On our first day of training, one of our extremely experienced international opening batsmen declared it the best artificial surface he had ever trained on.”

The London and the East region’s women’s team, The Sunrisers, also hold weekly training sessions at Merchant Taylors’, amongst seventeen other local cricket clubs who have used the cricket centre to date.

The building is named in recognition of Julian Hill, Merchant Taylors’ alumnus and keen cricketer whose generous one million pound legacy made the project possible, together with other donations from members of the Merchant Taylors’ community. In fact, the cricket centre is a uniquely philanthropic initiative, whereby lettings income profits will go towards funding bursary places at the School.

Believe it or not, Merchant Taylors’ has been playing cricket for over two hundred years, and, if you ever get the chance to have a look inside the school cricket pavilion you will see over a hundred years of 1st XI photos arranged around the room on the walls. The eagle eyed among you will notice that the 1934 side were the first to play at Sandy Lodge, making this year and the 2024 season our ninetieth at Sandy Lodge Lane.

In January alone, I was able to report to the school magazine Scissorum that we recorded over six hundred attendances, across the menu of sessions available. These attendances have been made up of one hundred and thirty different students, some of whom had trained in the centre over ten times in a two-and-a-half-week window! I can remember vividly parking my car at 7.20am on Friday 19th January for the second fast bowling academy session of the term, and witnessing twenty eight fast bowlers from eleven years old to eighteen years old, all warming up for a 7.30am start. Perhaps the only people not happy with this centre opening are the parents having to get up so early now!

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