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BCS Bhangra Dancing Cricketers unite UK Tour

Bishop Cotton School, Shimla have completed the first major cricket tour by an Indian School to the UK post-pandemic. In an ambitious nineteen match tour, the squad of three teams and thirty three boys played against some of the very best schools in the UK including Eton College, Westminster and Marlborough. 

Bhangra dancing cricketers at Marlborough College, Wiltshire
Ending another fabulous day of cricket with a Bhangra dance joined in by Marlborough College boys

In addition to a comprehensive programme of matches and interaction with English students in which the boys also conducted Bhangra workshops, the tour party visited the iconic sights of London and enjoyed a guided tour of Cambridge University. 

The tour was led by the Director of Bishop Cotton, Mr Simon Weale who said ‘We are determined to give our boys a global exposure and such tours are a fundamental part of that process.  Our boys made a strong impression and made friends wherever they went and we have now forged links with various schools which will allow us to organize future exchanges and trips’

 The itinerary included the following fixtures:
9th June v Westminster School, London
10th June v Culford School, Suffolk
13th June v Merchant Taylors’ School, North London
14th June v Eton College, Windsor
16th June v Aldenham School, North London
17th June v Forest School, East London
20th June v Marlborough College, Wiltshire  

The tour diary:

We stayed in Central London on the first night (Wednesday 8th June) and played our first match the next day against Westminster School – Bishop Cotton’s Alma Mater – in the shadow of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and with the support of a small but select group of OCs. 

Full BCS squad team with Old Cottonian supporters at Westminster Ground, Vincent’s Square, London
Westminster Game, Vincent’s Square – the Westminster Captain’s grandfather went to BCS Mr Gupta in the 1950s.

After the game, we travelled by bus along the Embankment and then through the East End and out to the beautiful countryside of Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and onto Culford School.  The tour party stayed in a guest dormitory in the school grounds and played five T20 matches (including a match against a London government day school on tour – Kingsbury which we won) as well as having some coaching and strength and conditioning work from the Culford sports’ coaches. After the matches, there was a celebratory bbq in the warm evening sun and the boys performed their first Bhangra to an appreciative audience.

The thatched pavillion at Culford School with BCS Sports Director, Mr Gurprit Singh
Culford School’s picturesque grounds
Culford School was the one of the properties owned by the Earl of Cadogan before it became a school.

On Saturday we travelled to the Leys School in central Cambridge.  The boys conducted a Bhangra workshop to their British peers and then led the performance before touring the Leys boarding accommodation and dining in the school. 

BCS boys teach their routine to the Leys School kids, bringing cultures together with dance

Visiting Cambridge

We then walked into historic Cambridge (guided by the Leys’ Headmaster) and visited the extraordinary chapel at King’s College before moving on to Trinity College – another Alma Mater of Bishop Cotton as well as that of Sir Isaac Newton – where a kindly porter allowed us in when no other visitors were allowed. 

Trinity College, Cambridge, UK

In the evening we travelled back to London and were then treated to a lively and wonderful dinner at the Three Falcons Gastropub in St John’s Wood as guests of OC Kuljinder. 

OCA London President Kuljinder hosts the team in an Indian Gastro pub in London

The next day there was a tour of London on an open top red bus and a cruise along the river Thames from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament.

On Monday 13th, we played three matches at Merchant Taylors’ School on their vast and impressive playing fields which are used by Middlesex as their base away from Lord’s. 

Merchant Taylors’ School, London
Windsor Castle with Mr Amod Talwalker, Mr Rohit Vyas and Mr Praveen Dharma

On Tuesday we travelled to Eton College where we were given a tour of the original school and chapel by the Deputy Headmaster and then walked up to the ramparts of Windsor Castle. 

In the afternoon, on the ‘playing fields of Eton’, we played two matches. 

BCS U14 Winners at Eton College

In the first completed match between an Eton XI and a BCS XI, BCS emerged as the winners – in the second despite a gallant effort we lost by three runs.  We have been presented with an Eton First XI cap to commemorate the match and will arrange to display it appropriately at school.

Eton College, Eton
OC supporters at Eton College
Eton College Deputy Head Jon Newton presented with a traditional Himachali hat and tour shield

On Wednesday, we visited Thorpe Park – the top adventure/theme park in London fun was had by all on the rollercoasters.

On Thursday there was a full day at Aldenham School where we received magnificent hospitality. 

Bhangra workshop at Aldenham School before the cricket matches
Winners at Aldenham School

This included another Bhangra workshop and then four matches including a select OC team in the evening with another BBQ, although we were ultimately undone by an Australian professional cricketer playing for the opposition.

Forest School, London

On Friday, there were three more matches against Forest School – their U15 team play in the English U15 Schools Cup Final this week.

On Saturday, we hit the Westfield shopping centre in West London and then visited the London Eye for some panoramic views of London.  On Sunday, we watched a T20 match at Lords.  The captains and best tourists were invited into a magnificent hospitality box by OC Kuljinder. 

Marlborough College, Wiltshire
Marlborough College, Wiltshire

On Monday, we travelled to the beautiful Marlborough College for three final games where we were greeted by Louise Moelwyn Hughes – the Master – who had made time to meet us despite needing to catch a plane for Malaysia. 

Marlborough College Master – Louise Moelwyn Hughes – with BCS Director Simon Weale and Alan Niblett OC

It is quite difficult to describe the stunning beauty of that piece of Wiltshire countryside as a backdrop for our final day on tour.  A small group were able to go and visit Cotton House – which is of course one of their boarding houses.

Cotton House, Marlborough College

We took 33 boys on the trip (a 34th who was on an exchange joined us for some matches). Overall, the boys played 19 matches and there were some excellent performances by many boys against some of the toughest opposition to be found in England.  As mentioned, the first match ever between a BCS team and an Eton team ended in victory for BCS – we also had wins at Forest, Culford, and Aldenham.  Most of the matches were very close and we fell agonisingly short in several matches – our U13s were the most successful team.  It has been very interesting to get the observations of the boys as they digest what they have just experienced.

Heathrow landing with many many bags

A big thank you to all who supported us on the tour and made it a truly memorable event.  Particular thanks to Kuljinder who put on two amazing events and provided us with half of our OC cricket team when the itinerary forced him to travel to Watford, and to Mr Niblett who made it to three matches despite the threat of train strikes. 

Bhangra Dancing with the Marlborough College boys after the matches
6 Responses
  1. Gay Niblett

    An inspired trip – a first of what we hope will be many more.
    Our boys were exemplary, beautifully behaved and making friends wherever they went. The Bhangra was introduced to England Public Schools and taken to with gusto – girls enjoying it every bit as much as the boys.
    A milestone in Public relations and a lifetime experience they will treasure forever.
    Congratulations to the Director and his wife, who led an admirable team of Teachers who cared for and helped this large group of boys on their first trip outside India. They all did us proud.
    Best wishes,

  2. Preet uberoi

    This is what I call a fantastic trip for our boys.
    The school has opened the horizon for their future endeavours.
    Congratulations and God bless.
    Cottonians,we are the best.🏡👍🙏but, never forget to be humble

  3. Prithvi Raj Prem

    Amazing ! This is real education, travel is what teaches us the realities of life ! Congratulations to all for this endeavour and to the lucky cottonians and old cottonians who were lucky enough to participate ! I pray that this excursion becomes an annual event.

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