England news March 21, 2017

All Stars cricket can create new generation of fans - Vaughan

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Vaughan hoping to create new cricket fans

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, says that the launch of All Stars Cricket, a major grassroots initiative for children aged between five and eight, is about creating a new generation of fans in order to sustain the sport into the future.

From midday on Monday, parents have been able to sign up their children online to become All Stars in an ECB scheme that aims to introduce the game to 50,000 boys and girls across the country.

"I think we're in a world of competition from many sports," Vaughan told ESPNcricinfo. "I do think cricket has sat back for many years and expected people to come and play the game. This is a project that takes the game to parents and kids."

The need to engage young children with cricket has never been more pressing as cricket has lost out to a range of individual pursuits that have been galvanised by Olympic coverage and social media interest, and by the effects of a social environment less naturally attuned to team sports.

"You only have to look to the left and see the Olympic Stadium," Vaughan said during the launch event at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford. "Who'd have thought many years ago that kids would have seen BMX racing on TV, or taekwondo? These kids have been inspired by the Olympics because they've seen the game. And that's really important, that cricket gets seen more.

"If one or two England players are made in the next ten years then great, but this is more about creating the cricket fan. I would hope that any youngster who comes through the programme, whether they play or not, they are going to like the game. And that's what I call spreading the wings of the game. The more we can grab kids of a younger age, the more their wings are going to be spread later in life, and that can only be good for the game."

A clue to the ECB's priorities comes in the fact that the media release prior to the launch came with enthusiastic quotes not from the MCC or any traditional cricketing body, but from the CEO of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts, who spoke on behalf of parents in celebrating: "Fun sporty activities that their children will love."

"We're trying to make a very early connection with girls and boys around the country, which if you get that right, the return on that time and investment is over a lifetime," ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, told ESPNcricinfo. "It's a fantastic way for us to demonstrate how we are trying to broaden the appeal of cricket around the country, through our club network, county boards and ultimately also through communities that we don't reach through cricket clubs."

The initiative has been almost two years in the making since the ECB appointed Matt Dwyer, who had successfully promoted the game at age-group level in Australia, as its director of participation and growth.

Upon sign-up, participants will receive a cricketing backpack including a bat, ball and everything they need to try the game for the first time. They will then start an eight-week programme at their local centre in May where they will be introduced to the game in "a fun and safe environment".

As a gesture towards educational advantages, children will also learn the social development skills that team sport brings.

Each session of the eight-week programme - developed with input from Andrew Strauss and the England performance team - aim to give children the basic skills they need to develop a lifelong love of cricket.

Participating centres will receive free All Stars kits, volunteer training and support via a central marketing campaign, celebrating 'Big Moments' as children take their first steps in the game. The programme reflects ECB's strategic framework for growing the game at every level.

The project is part of the ECB's wider 'Cricket Unleashed' programme, which aims to re-establish the sport's relevance to all sections of society. ESPNcricinfo gave more details on the scheme last month

The ECB has promoted All Stars at a series of meetings in county clubs around the country. Some of those already running successful youth cricket have reservations, bemoaning the fact that they will have no choice but to join a more expensive and glitzy marketing-led scheme.

With cricket participation levels down, however, after a decade without free-to-air coverage, and with all team sports feeling a fall in numbers, and pressure on facilities, All Stars comes at a crucial moment for English cricket.

Dwyer said: "We have big ambitions to significantly grow the game and this programme is all about putting a bat and ball in the hands of more children at an earlier age. First and foremost, we want to make playing cricket a fun and enjoyable experience for children and give them a passion for the game to last a lifetime.

"Drawing kids to the game at an early age will develop more players, create more fans and show the power of cricket in developing physical and social skills.

"We also want to make sure that parents have a great first experience at the club and give them the chance to have an hour back with their kids every week. We will be encouraging parents to get involved with sessions, whatever their prior knowledge of the game.

"Within weeks of unveiling the programme to clubs we had 2,000 of them sign up to deliver All Stars Cricket and this summer we hope to have 50,000 kids trying the sport all over the country through this exciting nationwide programme."

England men's and women's stars Jonny Bairstow and Lauren Winfield joined Vaughan at the event's launch on Monday evening.

Additional reporting by Andrew Miller

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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  • EdwinD on March 23, 2017, 22:16 GMT

    For those writing that £40 is excessive worth pointing out that this covers 8 sessions, and will help out those who coach at the lower levels for the love of the game, and earn very little for it.

  • cricfan09825227 on March 22, 2017, 22:51 GMT

    Well said Nutcutlet. Couldnt agree more. Cricket on Channel 9 down under is part of the summer fabric....no kid sits down to watch all 5 days of every test, but you come and go between your own games on the driveway/lawn whatever. Theres no same connection innthe UK

  • Nutcutlet on March 22, 2017, 12:20 GMT

    Whether or not this All Stars Cricket succeeds, it starts with a huge handicap. Cricket is no longer part of the sporting consciousness of the nation. For fifteen years (a huge hiatus - longer than the interregnum created by Oliver Cromwell in the mid 17th Century - who also banned playing cricket incidentally!) cricket has been hidden behind the Sky Sports paywall. Not a squeak of light has been allowed out. School children have been denied their British birthright, because they were born at the wrong time. For this, Giles Clarke - who also fell for the tainted riches offered by mega-fraudster Alan Stanford (currently serving a 110 yr sentence for wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy & obstruction of justice) - is wholly responsible. He has, through no higher motive than greed, denied any sight of our national summer game to all but the well-heeled. Yet still he hangs about. Now comes this 'catch-up' initiative. We shouldn't be here. Neither should Giles Clarke.

  • cricfan74822000 on March 22, 2017, 8:18 GMT

    It does have an antipodean gimmick-laden ring to it, this scheme, replete with a silly name, colourful tat and a plethora of managerial speak. £40 also seems a bit steep, however it is at least a step in the right direction. Obviously however there a further problems of maintaining interest beyond those particular age groups such as a lack of grassroots infrastructure, absence in state schools and it being essentially a paywalled sport and not ubiquitous in the way the Olympics, Rugby, Tennis and football is.

  • D.S.A on March 22, 2017, 3:31 GMT

    Events like these, Chance to Shine etc are grotesque. They do not exist to create future cricketers; their sole purpose is to create long-term CUSTOMERS. By trapping children (the most gullible), they are essentially copying the model that McDonalds sets: trap them young and they will hopefully come back as adults, even when there are alternatives. These initiatives will never create international cricketers as so many resources are needed, just to get the chance to play, let alone improve, and the overwhelming majority of children will simply not have that available. Because of football's simplicity (all you need are your friends, a ball, and at worst, your jumper/bag for posts), footballers routinely come from working-class backgrounds, with such skills not being buyable...yet (until the Messi gene can be activated, mainly for the rich, which is being worked on, of course). Int'l cricketers are almost all privately-educated, with some being clearly awful cricketers e.g. Stuart Binny.

  • Eadezee on March 21, 2017, 21:07 GMT

    Cricket has got to have a free to air presence on British TV, not just a highlights program that gets shunted around the schedule. I grew up in the Seventies with all Test matches shown on the telly, county cricket John Player League & B&H Cup games as well, I'll never forget Proctors hat trick live on BBC 2! In addition I could go to Canterbury & watch Viv, Both & Big Bird playing in a county match. I also saw Greenidge, Marshall & Roberts playing for Hants, Wasim Akram playing for Lancs, Gavankar playing for Somerset & every England player worth seeing with Knott & Underwood to the fore. That is what makes you fall in love with cricket, that is what makes you get a bat & a ball out and play the game with your mates. Unless we get cricket back in some form or other on free to air TV the game will become increasingly marginalised, even if it is just one or two T20 games per week......please just do it!!!!

  • Cricinfouser on March 21, 2017, 19:58 GMT

    Is the current ECB management team fit for purpose? Discuss

  • CricketMaan on March 21, 2017, 16:58 GMT

    If you want to make Cricket popular first make it meaningful. Too much cricket today and meaningless ODs all over the place. Unless there is quality and not this mad quantity Cricket will not appeal to next gen

  • py0alb on March 21, 2017, 16:07 GMT

    £40 per child? Jeepers. This is only for rich kids, then.

  • Wharfeseamer on March 21, 2017, 15:59 GMT

    I've never heard a kid tell me he doesn't want to play anymore because the game isn't on TV and, in fact, all the kids I know who play cricket and have access to Sky don't watch the game on television anyway. I've seen a clubhouse full of kids playing on their phones rather than watch the day's highlights being shown on Channel 5 on the club TV! My experience of coaching youngsters over the last dozen or so years is that getting the young age groups involved initially isn't an issue as parents are grateful for a couple of hours cheap babysitting... keeping the kids beyond mid-teens is the real issue facing the game in the UK, as it is with a number of other sports. Friends of mine talk about the same issues in Rugby Union and junior football has extended to run U18 leagues to try and keep the kids interested until open age.

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