My seven year old son looks a demon with the bat in his hands in the back garden, and he actually pays attention when the cricket’s on the TV. He seems to reserve special interest for the Test matches, which is very pleasing.
So this summer we signed him up at the local cricket club (can I give Rankins of Rochford, Essex, a plug and a thank you?) as part of the ECB’s All Star Cricket programme for 5 to 8 year olds. He loved it.
I loved that one of the coaches was very encouraging of the high elbow when playing straight – something I tried to instil in the boy in the back garden, due to my aesthetic love of the straight drive. A good one really can make me tingle.
The ECB threw in some extra benefits, such as child +1 freebie tickets to see the county play. We got a pair for Essex against the touring West Indies side before the Test series started.
I had a plan to keep him from getting bored during the long day and the morning session went very well.
Watching the opening spell, there was a very amusing small group of West Indians being marvellously vocal for such an event. They did make everyone smile. All day long.
We ate the packed lunch early, so we could get the boy on the outfield for a bit of coaching with the young lads from the Essex Academy.
The young ‘All Stars’ had a whale of a time out there, and even the rain couldn’t stop them.
They did get told off by the announcer – “I’ve told you once!” – when asked to clear the outfield for the start of afternoon play.
The plan for the afternoon was to walk around the ECG to enjoy different vantage points and views. And, of course, buy some surprisingly reasonably priced branded stationery and a belated score card and programme from the club shop.
Before we knew it I was embarrassing myself giving him some throw downs during tea.
Assuming he’d be bored by now, I’d prepared the wife to expect us home for dinner. But one portion of chips later, scorecard on his lap and pencil at the ready, he sat transfixed by the evening session.
You can’t imagine how happy it made me as someone desperate to have a conversation in my own home about cricket that elicits more than a weary wife’s sigh and how much of a success the day was in terms of indoctrination of a young mind.
If we have more young people like this out there, Test cricket will survive at least one more generation.
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