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By phil wright


CCE Head Coach Peter Wellings tells parents why cricket is the ideal sport to get involved in

The success of the England cricket team is currently sparking a massive resurgence in cricket in the UK and millions of parents and children are looking for ways to get involved in playing cricket.
Even with the outstanding performances the national team have produced, there are so many other reasons why cricket is the best sport for children to play.
Cricket is the one sport that reaches across boundaries of gender, race and class and enables children to mix with other children from every different community.
Cricket also has a culture of respect towards your team mates, the opposition and most importantly, the umpires. At a time when good values and behaviour appear to be diminishing in society, cricket teaches children the importance of discipline and respect for authority at the same time as having fun and enjoyment. This was demonstrated throughout the 2005 Ashes series, particularly when Andrew Flintoff consoled Brett Lee at the end of the epic Edgbaston test match, and also when Shane Warne offered such warm applause to Kevin Pietersen after his astonishing innings at the Oval.
Cricket also has fantastic role models for children to follow in stark contrast to some other sports. Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss, Brett Lee and the incomparable Freddie Flintoff are not just great players, they come across as genuinely decent people. They play the game incredibly hard but in the right spirit, in the knowledge that children will always copy what they see their heroes doing.
Cricket also teaches children the importance of self-reliance and practice. Although eleven cricketers make a cricket team, when the time comes to bowl your first delivery, walk out to bat or take a catch, your team mates can't do it for you and it's up to you as an individual to perform. This situation is very similar to writing an exam or going for a school or job interview and is a test of character - cricket helps children develop character.
As well as having such positive effect on a child's development, cricket is, quite simply, fantastic fun. Whacking 6's, bowling the batter middle stump, diving to take a great catch - these are all things which kids love doing. Playing in a team environment whilst the sun is shining provides so much enjoyment for children, and gets them outdoors and active rather than sitting in front of a tv or computer screen.
The fun side of cricket that attracts kids has gone through something of a renaissance in recent years with 20/20 matches providing great excitement. Free hits, hawkeye, snickometer - these are all fun developments that children love. Years before a child might find themselves stuck on the boundary not getting a bat or bowl. Nowadays, with the advent of Kwik-Cricket, children from the age of 4 upwards are guaranteed to get a go at both.
The values and decency that cricket instils in youngsters is perhaps best illustrated by a quote from Australian batsman Matthew Hayden. At the end of what was a difficult series personally and having been part of an Australian team that relinquished the Ashes after holding on to them for 16 years, he commented on the amazing camaraderie that existed between the England and Australian teams:
"The spirit between the two sides comes from mutual respect. I don't think there is another sport in the world that can forge such bonds between sides."
My own personal experience tells me cricket is the best of all the sports I played as a youngster, and I would recommend it to any parent seeking a sport for their child to play

Updated 21:48 - 15 Feb 2018 by phil wright

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