Mansfield Sports Group are quickly establishing themselves as the one-stop shop for the needs of the best cricketing schools
The job of a school cricket coach goes so much further than just picking the team.
As the schools featured in the Schools Guide have proven, schools’ cricket programmes are becoming increasingly professional with specialist coaching, analysis and strength and conditioning programmes now the norm.
Coaches across the country are helping more school players knock on the door of the professional game, but to implement an effective programme they need specialist equipment. Balls and coaching aids all come at a cost and it is often also part of the coach’s remit to arrange the purchasing and delivery of teamwear, for both training and matches. Sourcing equipment can be both difficult and time-consuming, but Mansfield Sports Group provide a wide range of exclusive products that give coaches a complete sports equipment and apparel solution, empowering them to spend more time focusing on the players themselves.
MSG was founded 10 years ago by Richard Mansfield, a man with experience in the cricket industry and a passion for helping players get better. He picks up the story: “We are a cricket manufacturer who exclusively manage a number of brands. They include Macron, who make our teamwear; BAS, who supply bats, pads and gloves; Leverage, who make our elite coaching aids and British Allround Sports, our home-grown Made In England brand that manufactures cricket balls for matches and training.”
Schools’ cricket is no longer restricted to just wearing whites in 40-over matches on Saturdays. Now there are T20, two-day and even 100-ball fixtures and the move to coloured clothing for shorter form matches is here to stay. While fantastic for the pupils to be able to play multi-format cricket, it can be a headache for the school needing to provide a whites kit as well as coloured, on top of training apparel.
"I have been using a wide range of MSG products for a few years and found them invaluable when coaching and the players have benefited training against these products. The service has also been fantastic and I would recommend MSG to clubs and schools."
But MSG and their technical sportswear partner Macron – who are a world-known teamwear and clothing brand – can kit out a school to cover all of its needs including students’ personalised PE uniforms, staff uniforms and the various sports’ playing and training kit.
“Macron offer a massive range of stock items that we can turn around in record time from our brand new HQ in Bologna. We have a number of Macron Stores around the UK, and also provide an on-line shop for schools to manage their requirements. Custom-made ranges of sportswear and much more are also available.”
Macron are already a trusted brand in rugby and football – having been official kit supplier for half of the teams in the 2020 Six Nations – and are now making a successful venture into cricket.
“As part of our partnership with Macron, over the last 12 months we’ve been working with the designers, production and marketing teams planning the cricket range which we are launching in 2021. Schools and counties across the country are poised to don the Macron badge.”
Leverage coaching aids
There is far more to coaching than just pitting players against one another in the nets. Throwing tools are nothing new but the Roboarm from Leverage – exclusively retailed by MSG – leads the way.
"I have been very impressed with the range of products. They have provided excellent variety for the development of young cricketers"
Easy to grip and control, it can be used for either batting or fielding practice and England assistant coach Paul Collingwood is among its users.
“The majority of England and county coaches have now moved over to our version of this product,” Mansfield says. “There is demand from retailers wanting to buy them direct from us but the slingers and MSG balls are still only available through MSG.”
Leverage also make bowling machines. There are seven different machines ranging from £400 up to £10,000, providing schools with a choice dependant on budgets and investment. One consistency though is the quality that makes the Leverage bowling machines universally trusted pieces of equipment.
“We’ve already got some machines at Yorkshire and West Indies have bought some too,” Mansfield explains.
Individuals too have been benefitting from MSG’s Leverage products. One of Leverage’s most popular products is the Springball.
“It is in almost every county coach’s kitbag. What it does is allow a coach to teach players how to play spin. You can even throw the ball underarm and it will turn as much as Shane Warne!”
Cricket is quite unique in that the quality of the ball is essential in both practice and matches. However, high-quality cricket balls are expensive and throughout the summer dozens can become unfit for use or lost.
"As coaches, there has never been a more exciting time to be working within the game. Players are developing new skills at a more accelerated rate than ever before and my MSG equipment enables me to stretch each player beyond their previous limits. The MSG training equipment is so innovative, yet so practical. A must for any coaching kit bag."
There can often be hundreds of pupils playing and netting on any given afternoon, so having a large supply of high-quality, inexpensive balls is essential. This is something MSG understands and they have created a range of balls that challenge the best-known brands in the market, but at a fraction of the cost.
“We listened to bowlers when manufacturing our balls. I have worked closely with Jofra Archer, Steve Kirby, Min Patel, Jon Lewis, Azhar Mahmood and Devon Malcolm to find out what they want in a ball. We can offer an £18-quality ball for just £6.”
And these British Allround Sports balls are clearly catching on in the county scene. “We now supply 10 of the 18 counties with our cricket balls for games and practice.
“Also during lockdown I had Ben Stokes, Archer, Tom Curran and former England captains Collingwood and Michael Vaughan calling us. We sent them various training balls and equipment to use at home.”
If you head to the Mansfield Sports Group YouTube channel you can see videos of the products being put through their paces by the England stars.
Fans will fondly remember the BAS brand. South Africa’s Hashim Amla, one of the game’s silkiest batsmen, played many a classy innings with a BAS in hand while Collingwood, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar also walked out to the middle with a BAS willow.
"Luke (my son) has used BAS cricket bats and equipment for several years and the quality is superb, second-to-none. MSG have been incredibly professional and knowledgeable and have taken great personal care and time to make sure Luke gets the equipment which is right for him."
These bats are trusted by the best and MSG can offer fantastic deals on BAS bats, pads, gloves and bags.
Through MSG’s brands they can effectively cover all needs a school may have.
“We’ve kept a fairly low profile over the past few years to make sure that we have a fantastic product. Now it has been tried and tested by the best in the market and we have coaches and the best players in the world biting our hands off to get our products.”