Freddie and Co give cricket a boost locally
PUBLISHED: 15:18 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010
Little can the likes of Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen know what they achieved for grassroots cricket when they beat the Aussies last September and regained the Ashes. Months later, the interest in the sport among youngsters, both boys and girls, is
Little can the likes of Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen know what they achieved for grassroots cricket when they beat the Aussies last September and regained the Ashes.
Months later, the interest in the sport among youngsters, both boys and girls, is unbelievable.
Clubs which previously were struggling to run colts sections have started youth training and others are attracting unprecedented numbers.
At Knebworth Park, there has been a long tradition of youth development with eight of the first team starting as youngsters, including veteran Chris Brook.
Numbers this season have exploded to almost double those of 2005.
Every age group has numbers way beyond last year and at under-nine level there are as many as 90 there each week, even when the weather is as poor as it was on Sunday.
A girls' under-nine side started its league programme last week, they had to launch an additional under-15 team, at under-12 they are running three teams and the club had to rush several new coaches through courses to meet the demand!
Parents have also pitched in to do their bit with a rota of mums organising a coffee bar which parents enjoy to make the morning a complete social occasion.
Knebworth Park chairman Chris Johnson said: "It's just fantastic for the sport. We have to do everything we can to maintain the interest and enthusiasm which we're seeking to do through good organisation, additional coaching, matches and sheer encouragement."
P Knebworth Park stages the local round of the SportsWISE UK20s tournament this Bank Holiday Monday. Park will be joined by teams from Hitchin, Stevenage and Luton Town and Indians.
This is the Herts/Beds group in the East Area part of the draw and the winners take on the winners from the Thames Valley group.
The first games start at 10am and all spectators are welcome.
They will all play each other in a round robin tournament.
This is a nationwide tournament that is the brainchild of astrologer and cricket enthusiast Russell Grant.
The final will take place at Hampshire's Rose Bowl on Sunday, September 10.
Last year's tournament was won by Welwyn Garden City.
All teams will be playing in coloured clothing and using orange balls.