Bowled over by cricketing success

Sydney West wins the 2011 NSW Combined High Schools boys cricket championships.The alumni of public-school cricket is like a Who's Who of Australian Test cricket.

Michael Clarke, Mark Taylor, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and Brad Haddin are among the many who played for Combined High Schools (CHS) teams and have gone on to captain Australia.

Then there is the legendary Don Bradman, who went to Bowral High School, Richie Benaud a Parramatta High School student, North Sydney Boys High School's Allan Border and Brian Booth of Bathurst High.

Australia's first Muslim cricketer Usman Khawaja is from Westfield Sports High School, along with Michael Clarke.

According to Canobolas Rural Technology High School deputy principal and CHS cricket convener, Damian Toohey, the success of public-school cricketers is no accident.

He said public schools gave students the best of both worlds when it came to their cricket education.

"As well as playing cricket with their local club, students can also take part in the CHS representative program, which includes the knockouts and the open CHS carnival that feeds into the NSW All Schools championship," Mr Toohey said.

"This is done in what I consider to be a very professional environment.

"The introduction of the Sports High Schools program has also assisted in keeping many of our talented players in our government system."

And it's not only cricket that shapes the budding sportsmen.

"The potential of so many of our students to make a difference is the strength of public education," he said.

"Steve Waugh, who went to East Hills Boys made a fine Australian captain and player, but more importantly he founded a charity to assist socio-economically disadvantaged kids in India, and ill kids in Australia.

"This is a young guy from East Hills.

"I'm sure the values of public education - and social justice - helped shape Steve Waugh's actions."

Having a former cricketer speak at his school helped shape the direction Mr Toohey's career took.

"I was in Year 10 when Brian Booth came to Bathurst High and spoke," he said.

"Many of the kids would have been asking themselves who this guy was - so humble, so keen to ensure he got his point across that treating others with respect was a key ingredient to a good life.

"I have met him on many occasions since, and every time I see him I become that kid, remembering that hearing him speak gave me a direction and an example to further assist me in my life journey."

Photo: Sydney West wins the 2011 NSW Combined High Schools boys cricket championships. Photo supplied by Greg Barley.

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