Milan Mniszko gets eye in to help Old Leysians chase Cambs & Hunts Premier League promotion
There is something of the Corinthian spirit about Old Leysians Cricket Club.
Formed 10 years ago, it is for former, and in some cases present, pupils of The Leys School to play cricket in a league environment.
But maybe even the founders would not have expected what was to follow, with six subsequent promotions to now see them in the Whiting & Partners Cambs & Hunts Premier League, Division Three.
“There are quite a few schools who do it around the country, but I think we’re probably one of the highest performing old boys teams in the country,” says opening batsman Milan Mniszko.
“I don’t think there are too many out there who are at the sort of level we’re at. It’s testament to the school really. In the last seven or eight years, I think cricket there has come on leaps and bounds thanks mainly to Richard Kaufman.
“He is the master of cricket at The Leys and has a lot of links with Northants so got me involved there, got Andrew Bramley involved there – he is a quality player.
“They have got a lot of talent even younger than Andrew, from Year 10s to lower sixth, and we’ve heard there are a few really good players just coming through now so it would be nice if we could integrate them over the next couple of years or so.
“The first year I joined we would struggle to get 11 every week, or it would be a push, and now we’ve got a squad of 15 every week.
“They are very good cricketers so a few people are having to be let down which is so different from how it was a few years ago.”
Mniszko has been in scintillating form this season.
University commitments restricted his involvement in the early weeks of the campaign, but he has wasted no time in playing catch up.
The 21-year-old has scored 385 runs at an average of 64.17, placing him in the top three in the rankings.
It is the kind of talent that saw him on the Emerging Players’ Programme (EPP) at Northamptonshire academy as a teenager and, almost in tandem, for three years at Burwell in the East Anglian Premier League.
“It was a great challenge (the EAPL) and at that stage when I was at Northants at 16 and 17, it’s the sort of cricket you’ve got to be playing and testing yourself against some of the best players around,” he explains.
“I definitely did enjoy it. It was really good for me to get that experience to that standard of men’s cricket.
“Coming out of school, you realise there is such a big step up from school cricket to men’s cricket.”
Studies were the priority for Mniszko though, with the aim of attending a top university, and so he stepped back from cricket commitments with Northants.
After three seasons at Burwell, and taking into account the demands of travel across East Anglia and gap year plans, Mniszko decided to join Old Leysians.
“I ended up playing nine or 10 games that season and really enjoyed it,” he says.
“I quite like the project aspect of it as well, joining up as everyone there went to the same school and working your way up through the leagues to get as high as we can.
“It’s been a nice change to go back to play with some of my old schoolmates and we’ve got some very talented players.”
It is not just about Old Leysians for Mniszko.
He is studying geography at Bristol University and playing for their cricket team.
They are in the British Universities & Colleges Sport Premier Division, alongside the MCCUs of Cambridge, Oxford, Loughborough, Durham and Leeds/Bradford.
“It’s a serious standard of cricket, really strong,” he says.
“Most sides probably have a couple of players who are on the fringes, or a lot of players who are linked with counties as well.
“They are all trying to prove themselves playing. We definitely punch above our weight for the funding we get and the talent pool that we get in.
“Bristol doesn’t offer any scholarships and you look at somewhere like Loughborough and they have a lot invested into them.”
To have such a talent in their ranks as Mniszko is clearly a plus for Old Leysians, who are second in the table, four points behind Foxton II with a game in hand.
“The goal that everyone has got in mind is Division One, and I think, subject to availability early season, we would really hold our own in that league,” Mniszko added.
“It’s where we’ve got our sights set at the moment, but we’ve got to take it one step at a time and got to get it done this season.”
More by this authorMark Taylor