Board bats for better cricket;Sport

Diane Spencer

The early April start to the cricket season reflected the game's malaise: it snowed.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and county clubs are determined to win cricket back its rightful place as the summer game. The World Cup which starts next month should help, especially if England triumphs.

The ECB says it wants every child to be introduced to the game. It suggests, in its development plan published last month, that primary schools start with Kwik Cricket - played with a soft ball and simplified rules - moving on to the full game in secondaries.

Middlesex County Cricket Club, based at Lord's in London, is taking the game out to the community. Vinny Codrington, the secretary, estimates that there are 600,000 schoolchildren in the catchment area of the "home" of cricket.

"If we can get one in 10 to pick up a bat then we have more chance of getting a better Middlesex team and an England team."

From today, children in Tower Hamlets, in London's East End, will have the chance to learn the game. Phil Knappett, the Middlesex development officer, has organised two coaches to teach cricket to eight to 13-year-olds on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings in the summer term.

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the ECB, hailed it as a good example to other development officers, particularly as it was aimed at the local Bangladeshi community.

"We want to get away from the idea that cricketers only come from fee-paying schools. There's a lot of talent out there," said Mr Knappett.

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Diane Spencer

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