Resource of the Week - The Ashes Challenge - Bowled over by talent
Cricket is said to have been invented in England - where the Ashes is currently being hotly contested - but Australian primary school students appear to know more about the rules of the game than their counterparts in the UK.
Dave Ross, 46, a primary school teacher who also runs the education centre at Durham County Cricket Club, discovered the knowledge gap when he was asked by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to adapt Australian educational resources - the Ashes School Challenge - for use in the UK.
"We had to adjust the level of some resources for the UK because the children and their teachers simply didn't know as much as the Australians about cricket," he says.
Targeted at key stage 2 students (aged 7-11), the resources feature 20 Ashes-themed lesson plans on subjects ranging from numeracy and literacy to geography, physical education and media studies.
Supported by the ECB and Cricket Australia, they also aim to educate children about the spirit of cricket and create a grassroots legacy for the game in Australia and England.
"The resources are incredibly versatile," Ross says. "There is a teaching and listening activity, for example, which gives students clear profiles of players. They then have to make a case to a mock English Cricket Board panel about why their player should be selected for the England team.
"With numeracy, there is a top trumps activity where children are asked to place the cards in order of players' heights or ages. Another lesson asks students to study the timings of a cricket match and work out the difference in minutes between, for example, the start of a match and the time a first wicket falls."
Red Rose Primary School in County Durham, where Ross teaches part-time, has now forged links with an Australian school in Casino, New South Wales, to share activities on similar themes and set up a pen pal scheme.
In the UK, a two-year pilot project was launched this year to monitor 80 schools that have signed up to an Ashes School Challenge. But the resource kit, including a DVD, is available free to any primary school or teacher interested in taking part.
Ross, a former secondary science teacher, was appointed manager of the Learning Beyond the Boundary education centre attached to the Durham county club in 2008.
"I've always had an interest in cricket," he says, "although I'm probably better at watching it than playing. Our educational programmes range from infants through to adults. The aim is not only academic but also to develop confidence in the young people. We want children to understand the spirit of cricket, and how the game is played. But we also want to encourage the next generation of young players."
The first definitive references to cricket appeared in England in the 1600s. In the following century, public schools and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge adopted the game.
In 2009, however, an Australian academic claimed that a poem thought to have been written in 1533 - which mentions Flemish weavers as "Kings of crekettes" - suggested the game originated in Flanders, Belgium.
For more information, go to bit.lyAshesSchoolChallenge