Over the next term, HSC will be attempting to discover the identity of Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moment, with your help. This article retells the story of Todd Ryan’s School record 206* in 2017. This will compete against three other moments in Group Four. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!
There is something of a cruel perfection about cricket at Hampton in the summer. As spring turns to summer and the grey skies turn to blue, the soundtrack of the playing fields changes from the brutality and physicality of rugby to the serene sound of leather on willow.
Yet during this metamorphosis, hundreds of Hampton pupils are able only to look on from nearby classrooms with jealousy, to gauge the situation of a match by assessing the players’ cheers rather than watching it themselves.
As a student, this sense has never been felt in a more profound fashion than on one day in July 2017, as First XI opening batsman Todd Ryan ran wild against an Australian touring team, Canberra Grammar School.
The sound of balls being smashed to the boundary, of Ryan’s bat despatching the Australian bowling has seldom been stronger in the school’s history as the First XI played in their penultimate match of the 2017 season.
It had already been a record-breaking year for the team: victories over the MCC, Harrow, Dulwich and Whitgift stand out as the notable results; Hampton had also won the competitive 50/40 League, beating competition such as St. Paul’s and RGS Guildford.
And so at the beginning of Cricket Week – the final week of the academic year, in which the First XI play against touring teams as well as the historic clash against the Old Hamptonians – there was little left for Hampton to prove. One would think that a set of friendlies against touring teams would serve as celebratory occasions, an opportunity for the departing Upper Sixth cricketers to end their school career in triumphant fashion.
This was not to be the case. Hampton played the week with typical competitive zeal, greeting their supranational opponents with trademark intensity and passion. One suspects that a 76-run loss to Parramatta Academy on Day Two of the week was a matter of real frustration for the 1st XI.
Thus, heading into Day Three against Canberra Grammar School, Hampton would play with renewed vigour. Winning the toss and opting to bat, opening batsman Todd Ryan started to tick.
The season had already been a successful one for him, partaking in a flourishing opening partnership with Cole Campbell, scoring a magnificent 107 against Trinity on the way. One century, though, would not have been just reward for such a strong campaign.
After getting his eye in, Ryan started to go through the gears. He reached 100 shortly after 30 overs, with captain Chris Searle at the other end on 57. But few had any idea about what was in store.
Ryan went berserk, smashing the Australian bowling attack around Hanworth Road – teachers in the nearby History classrooms had little hope of maintaining the attention of their pupils with such a relentless soundtrack of bat smacking ball.
There was little stopping Ryan, and with three overs remaining he was still at the crease, on 187. He’d already passed the school’s record individual score – Zafar Ansari’s 179 against Eton in 2010 – but he had a double-century in his sights. Could he reach it in time?
No question. The travelling bowlers were no match for Ryan’s aggression, and he batted the final three overs in the same fashion as before, eventually finishing on 206 not out in a total of 365. Hampton went on to win by 218 runs, and those present as Ryan launched his assault will likely never forget his exploits.
At a school replete with successful cricketing alumni, including two Test cricketers, you’d think that the record for the highest individual score would be something close to unattainable. Not so, for Ryan, who wrote his name into Hampton’s record books.