In September 2015 John Crawley began his tenure as head of cricket at Oundle School. A very successful county cricketer and holder of 37 test caps, there is no doubting that Oundle cricket is in very capable hands.
Crawley previously held similar positions at Oakham and Magdalen College School in Oxford. He developed an interest in working with young players towards the end of his cricket career when he helped in the development of members of the academy system at Hampshire.
‘I took great satisfaction and pride in seeing those that I helped perform and prosper,’ he said.
Crawley also maintains a passion for history from his days as a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was keen for this to continue. ‘Head of Cricket and teacher of history is just about the perfect job!’
During his career, Crawley amassed over 24,000 runs in first class cricket at an average of 46.49, and has been hailed as one of the most prolific batsmen in county cricket for nearly two decades.
His career at the pinnacle of the sport was not without particular highlights. His proudest moment came in 2002 when he scored 100 at Lords against India. It came against the backdrop of a period of particular difficulty for John, both professionally, after a contract dispute with Lancashire seriously jeopardised his career, and personally due to the sudden passing of his mother.
‘To come through this, regain a place so quickly in the England team after the move to Hampshire, and then secure a place on the prized honours board in the Lord’s dressing room was a special moment.’
John above all stresses the importance of enjoyment. ‘There is no point playing if you don’t enjoy the unique challenges, elation, togetherness and tribulation that cricket offers.’
He also emphasises the importance of focusing upon one’s personal game. ‘Nobody can walk out to the middle with you – you have to have faith in your own ability and play the game the way you want to play it, not try to please someone else.’
It is this second piece of advice that has personal resonance for John.
‘When I was a young player I grew up on a fast, bouncy pitch at Old Trafford. I took on the short ball whenever I could, and scored quickly because of this. In three consecutive games, I was out hooking and walked into a hard-nosed dressing room that didn’t accept these dismissals, and I chose to ignore the short balls after that.
‘This led to my being unable to score quickly against the likes of Glenn McGrath and Curtly Ambrose, and all I did was build pressure on myself and the team by not being able to score against these types of bowlers. I hadn’t been true to myself and had played the way that pleased others, not myself.’
At Oundle, his key goals will focus on enhancing the sport’s popularity for both boys and girls, catering for all levels of cricketing ability, and maintaining the well-established links with Oundle town cricket.
‘Ultimately, we want to instil a lifelong love of the game through school, university, MCC, OOs, club cricket and beyond, and to ensure that a player’s individual gifts are developed within a team environment and that the flair of the individual is enhanced always to the benefit of the team.’
By Thomas Lambton – 11 May 2016