At just 13 years of age, Rotorua's Cohen Stewart has enjoyed the cricket trip of a lifetime.

As a cricket-mad, energetic young man, what better way to spend the New Zealand winter than three months playing cricket in England?

Cohen was selected for the first international junior cricket scholarship by the Parley Cricket Club in Bournemouth and leapt at the offer.

The origins of the scholarship go back two decades to when Cohen's dad, Rotorua cricket stalwart Crispian Stewart, was the English club's first overseas player in the (English) 1997 and 1998 seasons.


Crispian maintained contact with his English cricket club over the years and when they indicated they were looking at extending their overseas player programme to include youth players, the Stewart family lodged an application.

During his time in England, Cohen played a whopping 61 games in 85 days for a range of
teams from the Parley Under-13s to senior teams. He scored 765 runs at an average of 27.32, took 57 wickets and was involved in 28 other dismissals with 18 catches and 10 run-outs.

Cohen said, overall, the trip was "really good", he enjoyed it and it helped him develop as a player too.

"There's lots of people we met who were really helpful and playing in lots of different competitions was good."

He struggled to single out any specific moment or game as a highlight.

"Just the whole trip, there's not really any one moment that stands out, it was all great. The first game for the club was obviously pretty special, it was close too.

"I made a couple of 50s. One of them took forever and it was really cold, so I was pretty happy with that."

He said he learned a lot from the trip, through the coaching he received as well as the whole life experience of spending time overseas.

"I'd really love to go back one day if I have the opportunity, I made lots of new friends."

Crispian said watching Cohen play for his old club made him proud. Particularly watching him play for the club's senior side on Wednesday evenings.

"He's definitely a different person and player than three months ago before we left. I think the best part was watching how he would battle playing adult cricket, but then when he came down to his age group he dominated, he got the most runs and wickets in his age group in the competition.

"Playing against adults could break some kids, there's no let-ups, when they see a kid coming on to bowl they think they should be on top of them, and generally they are. But, Cohen handled it well."

Crispian even got out on the field himself and was made a life member of the club at the end of the trip, which he said was "very special".

"I played a lot more than I expected, I played about 20 games and I really enjoyed it. Playing alongside Cohen was neat, I think we ended up being the oldest and youngest on the team."

The pair batted together in one match, during which Crispian claims Cohen ran him out - an accusation that appears to remain up for debate.

They spent any down-time volunteering at the Parley Cricket Club, helping with outfield and wicket maintenance. In appreciation of the outstanding hospitality they received, the Stewarts donated the Cohen Cup, which will be presented as a Citizenship Award for a Parley CC junior player displaying exceptional ethics and respect for the club, players, coaches, opposition supporters and the game.

Despite playing so much cricket in such a short space of time, Cohen said he enjoyed each game as much as the last and was already looking forward to the start of the cricket season in Rotorua.