When Harry Brindle stepped up to the crease on Sunday, he issued an instruction to his opening partner: “Don’t do any silly runs and run me out.”
Nothing unusual in that, perhaps – except that Harry is 12-years-old and his partner was his mother, Arran Brindle, a three-time former Ashes winner.
Harry needn’t have worried. Mother and son shared an unbroken stand of 143 to take their team, Ownby Trojans, to a ten-wicket victory in the Lincoln & District League.
Brindle, who represented England 134 times over 15 years, scored 94 off 101 balls while Harry hit 32 off 98 in the division three match against Nettleham Cricket Club.
It was the longest that mother and son have ever batted together, and Brindle was careful not to dispense too much advice.
“It’s actually probably easier batting with him than watching,” she said.
“If I talk to him and he thinks I’m giving him too much information he gets a little bit grumpy at me,” she said. “He’s like, ‘mum I’m fine, leave me alone’. I’m like ‘okay, fine’. So, I guess we got to grips with that as we went through. It was easier the longer we batted together.
“It was just trying to keep him in a positive mindset, I guess. We said well done to each other at 50, got to 100, and I was like ‘right mate, you’ve got to be here at the end and we’ve got to knock this off’.”
Arran also coaches at Ownby Trojans, a club designed to develop young cricketers. A typical XI includes eight or nine players under 15, and two or three adults – generally parents of the children.
“That’s why we set-up the side, to give them those experiences playing harder cricket, longer cricket,” Arran said. “As a youngster starting out in senior cricket it’s quite hard to bat time and score runs. So for him to be able to apply himself in that sort of environment was important and grew his confidence.”
Harry picked up the sport at a young age, often travelling to support his mum around the world. In 2013, the players and their families were in India for the World Cup when Harry – who was four years old at the time – faced Katherine Brunt, one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game.
“We had pretty much the entire corridor to ourselves – hence why Katherine was able to bowl down the corridor at him,” Arran recalled. “It’s been an interesting journey with cricket – obviously, from a young age he was involved with an elite set-up. One of his first Easter presents was a cricket bat.”
Harry, considered to be a cricketer of huge potential, took four wickets with his left-arm spin bowling earlier in the match. But Arran said that it is a little early to hope that he will join her in representing England.
“What we as a family have gained through cricket – whether it’s social or at a higher level – is the sportsmanship, the teammates, the friends around the world. And if we can let our children have the same sort of existence and have the healthy lifestyle then that is important as whether he ever plays for England, really.
“He puts so much pressure on himself – we just want to let him go out and enjoy cricket. Our aim is just to give him the opportunity.”