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30th May 2023

In the Spotlight with Patrick Latham

In our latest instalment of our ‘In the Spotlight’ series, we chat with Patrick Latham, Director of Cricket.

What was your previous role?

I have been fortunate to enjoy a couple of roles at Oakham, more recently joining the tutor team as Senior Tutor in Clipsham. I actually started working at Oakham fifteen or sixteen years ago as a Visiting Sports Coach. The VSC role allowed me to coach three terms of sport working with girls’ hockey in term 1, boys’ hockey in term 2 and then cricket in the summer.

Please tell us more about your background before that?

I started my teaching career at Bedford School, where I was Director of Cricket in the Prep School, as well as a PE and Geography teacher. I was a resident tutor in a 6th form house, enjoying six years at the school before moving on to St John’s College Prep School in Cambridge to take up a role as Director of Sport, Head of Cricket and again resident tutor in the school’s boarding house. I decided on a slight change of course in my career and set up a business as a freelance illustrator and caricature artist, but keeping the sports coaching going at Oundle School as a rugby and cricket coach. At this point, I moved to Oakham to take up the VSC role, which I continued to do alongside the illustrative work until last October, when I took up the full-time position at Oakham.

How long have you been playing cricket for?

Cricket has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – I played my first games of cricket where my family lived, in the small village of Upper Dean, near to my school, Kimbolton.  From Kimbolton School to Kimbolton CC and on to Huntingdon CC, I was lucky enough to be asked to sign for Cambridgeshire CCC in the minor counties championship. This was a real learning experience for me in terms of understanding not only the game, but the lifestyle around the game and spending a lot of time with teammates in changing rooms, hotels and cars driving to matches. After one game against Norfolk, I received a call from Somerset asking me to play in a 2nd XI Championship game against Surrey at Taunton. I played several games for Somerset that year and trialled for Durham and Sussex.  I was fortunate to captain Cambridge & Godmanchester CC in the EAPL, and then moved to Northampton Saints CC, a club and time in the club’s history that I was incredibly lucky to be a part of. When I moved to Oakham, I joined Uppingham Town CC and played for a further four or five years, again at a fantastic time when the club moved from lower divisions to play Premier League cricket again for one final time before finishing my time as a club player. I now play occasionally in invitational XIs and for the MCC of which I am a proud member. I would love to play for the Mosquitoes (Oakham staff XI), but the competition for places is very high!

Why did you choose to work at Oakham School?

I remember coming to Oakham as a 10-year-old with Kimbolton School and from the moment we arrived to see the campus and in particular Doncaster Close, Oakham was the yardstick by which we measured all other schools on the circuit. After leaving Oakham, I returned annually with MCC as a playing member, enjoying what was always the best day of cricket on my calendar. I was then invited to play for the then Director of Sport’s Speech Day XI, which was always another incredible day. Oakham has always been a big part of my sporting and, in particular cricketing life, with positive memories of matches, sunny days, teas and a warm welcome and generous hospitality. Arriving to play at Oakham has always been so enjoyable, and still today, I measure other schools by Oakham standards, and there remains no other place I would rather be.

What are your ambitions for cricket at Oakham School?

My initial aims were to make a start on giving the Oakham girls the same opportunities that the boys have enjoyed for years. This year we have five girls’ teams throughout the School with growing fixture lists. An MCC fixture has been added for the girls’ 1st XI and an equivalent BOWS cricket festival will be hosted at Oakham at the same time as the boys travel to Brighton for their own festival at the end of term.

Some brilliant new links and partnerships have been created to benefit the School and girls’ cricket directly. The Blaze is a new franchise which was formerly Lightning. The Blaze Academy use our School’s indoor facilities over the winter, which allows our girls to access professional coaching and playing experience. Several boys have been able to go along to offer a challenge to their players and themselves, and benefit from seeing girls of a similar age performing at a high level. In the summer, The Blaze train outdoors on site, and we are working to provide an outground venue for training and first-class Blaze matches.

We have also created a very positive link with Market Overton Cricket Club through our new VSC Mark Hudson. Mark is chairman at MOCC, and works directly with Leicestershire CCC women when not coaching at Oakham.

The bigger picture is to create a centre for women’s cricket initially in Leicestershire but longer term as a go-to venue for cricket in the Midlands and then more nationally. We have been in discussion with ECB this year and looked into Oakham being a training venue for England Women,  which again is a link we will look to grow going forwards.

Ensure the boys and girls of all ages and abilities foster a love of the game, which we hope will last forever. Links with prep and primary schools, county pathways and university and club cricket will be paramount in making this happen effectively.

We want to create an environment where gender and age go unseen. The focus is on working together so that everyone enjoys the most fantastic game that teaches the students about so much more than cricket.

Why are the facilities here good?

The grounds staff here work incredibly hard to create first-class sports facilities, and testament to their work, we will welcome Leicestershire CCC back to Oakham School in July this year for a championship game against Worcestershire CCC. Our students get to play on incredible wickets and outfields, the like of which will be the best most will ever get to play on. We are very lucky with our astroturf hockey, grass rugby, hardcourt netball and tennis, football facilities and the amazing cricket surfaces and training facilities. Not necessarily facilities, but our cricket lunches and teas are definitely right up there with the best on the circuit!

What can students expect in cricket lessons?

Our cricket sessions work between our new astroturf Blezard net facility, fielding on the outfields, grass nets and middle practices. Our team of fantastic coaches work hard to ensure fun and challenging sessions are experienced by all the students, tailored to their ability. Our schedule of fixtures is varied and again tailored to the various levels of ability. We are growing the girls’ fixture list to try to bring it into line with the boys’ fixture list.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role?

The opportunity to create amazing days and experiences at Oakham, giving fun and enjoyable cricket for all. We have already enjoyed some mixed cricket, with Form 7 girls mixing in with U15A girls and boys on Speech Day, which was a very positive experiment with all supporting and enjoying each other’s success in the game. Seeing the girls playing in their own BOWS festival will be groundbreaking and go a long way to narrow the gap between male and female provision. There is much to look forward to and a lot to do, but I am very excited for the future of Oakham cricket.

Anything exciting planned for cricket over the next year?

We are advertising for a new full-time cricket role to assist me with the running of cricket and to help develop the ideas we have for the future.

An increase in links with the Rutland Learning Trust to open our facilities to local primary schools and identify local talent is a priority, and we have some nice ideas to develop this.

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