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Alex Sears aiming to develop the next generation at Cambridge Granta

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Alex Sears in action for Cambridge Granta against Mildenhall. Picture: Keith Heppell
Alex Sears in action for Cambridge Granta against Mildenhall. Picture: Keith Heppell

Bowler helps re-establish youth cricket at Clare College

He may be called gramps by his team-mates, but Alex Sears has a vital role in developing the future of Cambridge Granta Cricket Club.

Despite being only 28, Sears is the elder statesman of the first-team squad, an indication of the youthful nature of the side where talents such as Michael Pepper and Ben Claydon are already flourishing.

Pepper has been in red-hot form in recent weeks, and it was in fact Sears that helped the Essex batsman steady the ship against Copdock & Old Ipswichian.

Sears made 55 in a 152-run stand, which is not bad for someone who is nominally a bowler, and it was his second highest score for Granta since joining last season.

Before arriving at the club, the 6ft 3in seamer had been something of a nomad on the city’s cricket scene.

Having previously played for Sleaford in the Lincolnshire Premier League, Sears moved to the area in 2013 after his now wife got a job in Cambridge and he then began studying at the university, earning a Blue against Oxford in 2014.

His club cricket began with Camden, but when they folded, he made the step up to Burwell, in the East Anglian Premier League.

“I found it was too much travel and I just didn’t quite click with the lads. There were some really nice blokes like Pete Richer and Graham Hume, and a few others, but I didn’t quite fit,” he said.

“I moved to Histon and I did alright but I was recovering from a shoulder injury really. It was nice and relaxed cricket.”

However, after speaking to Granta captain Johnny Atkinson, he was tempted back to give the EAPL another crack and has not looked back, finding it easy to settle at the club.

“I’m really enjoying it there and it’s just so refreshing to play with these younger lads like Ben Claydon, Michael Pepper, Chris Pepper, they are just so talented” said Sears.

“I’ve never played with such a talented bunch of blokes. It’s good to be involved with guys that enjoy each other’s company and want to do it.

“I’m the oldest in the the first team at 28 – they call me gramps.”

The King’s College School teacher also finds himself as a key part of a new era at Granta, who have done a soft launch of the rebranding of their name to Cambridge Cricket Club.

That includes helping to rebuild at the grassroots after Ian Reid left during the winter to set up a new club for youth cricket called Cambridge City.

Sears had been coaching youngsters on a Sunday as part of the old youth section, and so was tasked with spearheading a new junior part to the club.

“We wanted to try to make a fresh start of it and it works in line with us becoming Cambridge Cricket Club as well,” he said.

“We’ve changed the night to Friday so we can offer more coaches who are players. It should make the link between the juniors and adults a lot better which in the past it could have been, and we all agreed on that.

“They almost ran as two separate entities before and I think we’re trying to get them in line with each other.

“I was asked to take over and, with help from other people because you can’t do it on your own, we’re finding our feet with it.”

They were uncertain how many youngsters would attend, but at the first session had 20 and it is now exceeding 50.

“It’s nowhere near what it was, and we’re really starting from scratch again with a new set of kids, a lot of which are younger really,” he said.

“It’s all under-10s and 11s at the moment, and then the little juniors. There are so many good cricketers already coming through, but they are just young at the moment.”

The under-10s recently had a tied match against Wendens Ambo, and the team featured three under-10s, five under-nines and three under-eights, and in Sears’ words “they did really well”.

“Hopefully, as they come through they will get more game practice and more confidence as they get older,” he said.

“The young lads are loving it, they are really enjoying it.

“We have quite a few King’s kids who play for Granta now and they just come up to me at break time and say ‘I can’t wait for tonight’, and I say ‘you’ve got maths next, you need to concentrate on that’!”

First Choice Coaching have assisted Granta in getting the youth section going ahead, with AP Stafford coaching every week.

But it is being driven by the Granta players and the likes of Sears, Dougie Rice, Atkinson and Chris Benjamin, while Evan Hill has been helping with registration every week and promoting the club.

“It’s then the effort from the old guard like Alan Hobbs, Linda Hobbs, Jane Nightingale,” said Sears.

“Robbie [Nightingale] is allowing us to do all the junior fixtures at the ground as well. It’s really nice as he’s preparing the pitches for the younger ones.”

And the Cambridge cricket ‘nomad’ is feeling at home at Granta.

“I’ve always wanted to be heavily involved at a club,” said Sears. “I love being part of the first-team there, it’s as good an atmosphere I’ve experienced at a club for a long time.

“I was at Sleaford the year we won the league, and it feels similar now with the camaraderie we’ve got between us lot.”

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