August 18, 2000

France: French juniors shine plus all the other news from France

Richie Benaud
France's young cricketers were the stars of the past month when the Under 12 team finished second in the Kwik Cricket tournament at Canterbury in the United Kingdom

France's young cricketers were the stars of the past month when the Under 12 team finished second in the Kwik Cricket tournament at Canterbury in the United Kingdom. This Kent based tournament hosted twenty four teams and is an outstanding example of the manner in which keen cricketing youngsters are being catered for in Europe.

Kent have provided many outstanding cricketers for England over the years, one of the finest being Lord Cowdrey. I played against Colin Cowdrey on many occasions in the 1950s and early 1960s and it was sad to hear he had suffered a stroke in early August. I saw him at Canterbury when he spent time with French officials and players on the Saturday of the Canterbury festival week. This meeting was after the French representatives had taken part in the Channel 4 Roadshow which goes to air every Saturday of the English summer.

The meeting has resulted in a decision that the senior France team will play a game against a Kent X1 at Folkestone in the summer of 2001 and the hope is that this will become an annual fixture. Folkestone was formerly one of Kent's leading grounds and it will be great experience for the French team.

Further contacts have also been made between France and Australia with one of the most promising French players, Paris born Sulanga Richmond who is only 16 years of age, being given the chance to play in Australia in this coming summer 'down under.'

This comes about after meetings between France Cricket officials and the leading administrator of the Australian Crusaders cricket club; 'Swan' Richards who organises fixtures in Australia and around the cricket world for his club has offered Richmond the chance of a cricket scholarship in Melbourne. The Crusaders themselves will tour various countries in 2001 and they will play against France at the beautiful Thoiry ground in June.

This will be part of France's preparation for the ICC Trophy which will be played in Canada with the long term aim of every country to be included in the Associate Nations draft for the World Cup to be played in South Africa in 2003.

All these matches are of considerable significance for France and other countries, combining as they do the benefits of hard match practice and the need to have a great deal of concentration. It was something the French squad experienced recently when they undertook their longest-ever tour of fourteen days when ten matches were played.

The overall success record was mixed, but the experience gained was invaluable with matches played on turf pitches of varying pace and hardness in both England and Scotland. There was a lot of local media coverage of the matches and the other aspect which will be of long term benefit to the players was the fact that they had to train hard every day as well as play. One of the features which was brought home to the France players was that fierce concentration is needed in both batting and bowling once they move up a level in the game. The lesson will not be lost.

France was one of the teams to have players with availability problems and Val Brumant and David Holt, the latter having played for Middlesex 11's, were scheduled to be available for France in their game against Old England at Hastings later in August.

That Olympic match, the France domestic cricket play-offs and the French team's participation in the Isle of Wight Festival will be fully covered in the next issue.