My School Sport: Mark Butcher (19 Aug 1998)

19 August 1998

My School Sport: Mark Butcher

By Gareth A Davies

Mark Butcher, the Surrey and England opening batsman who was Man of the Match in the fifth Test at Headingley, reflects on his early career

Where did you go to school? I went to Cumnor House School in Purley from the age of five to 13 and after that, Trinity School in Croydon.

Did other well-known sportsmen attend your hool? Alistair Brown, the Surrey batsman, my brother Gary, and the Wasps wing Shane Roiser.

Did you enjoy your schooldays? Yes, up to a point. Cumnor House had very good sports teachers, one of whom was Steve Kember who played football for Crystal Place and Chelsea, and managed Crystal Palace. My father, England cricketer Alan, was also there. He used to take football in the winter, and Steve would do the cricket in the summers.

Which sports did you play at school? All of them, but mainly football, cricket, rugby and athletics. I represented Croydon at football a few times, and played for a Sunday youth side for five years, playing mainly in central midfield. Up to the age of 14, I had aspirations to take football further, but with the switch to Trinity, where they didn't play football, it took a backseat to cricket.

What was your most memorable cricketing performance at school? Playing for the under 15 side at Trinity. I scored 150 batting, and then came on to bowl and finished with nine for 12.

How did your cricket career progress? I started in the school under 11 side when I was seven and played for Surrey under 11s through to under 19s, and was always an all-rounder. I spent most of the school summer holidays with my brother, Gary, at the Oval when my dad was playing for Surrey. The choice of career certainly wasn't a shock to our parents. Surrey offered me a contract at 17.

Who were your sporting heroes as a child? Cricket-wise, Ian Botham and a lot of the West Indian cricketers -Michael Holding, Larry Gomes, Viv Richards. In football, Kenny Dalglish. I supported Liverpool when I was younger, but since I never saw them at Anfield I learned the error of my ways and switched to supporting Crystal Palace. I also admired the decathlete Daley Thompson.

Were you academically inclined? Not as much as I should have been - cricket always held sway. I got five GCSEs then packed it in.

Your advice to schoolchildren interested in pursuing a career in sport? Manage your time as regards sport and academic work - I didn't. You can't guarantee getting to the top of your profession, so my advice is enjoy your sport, work hard at it, but at the same time also put the effort into your academic work.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

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