March youngsters enjoyed All Stars Cricket
By Midsummer there seemed little hope of any All Stars Cricket for youngsters in the March area.
But fortunately, year four of March Town Cricket Club’s eight-week programme, originally arranged for May, got under way in early August.
All Stars Cricket is an exciting English Cricket Board (ECB) initiative for boys and girls aged between five and eight years which aims at providing children with their first experience of cricket.
As part of the scheme, each child gets a backpack, cricket bat, ball, cap and an All Stars shirt with their own name on.
This year’s programme at The Avenue was attended each week by just over a dozen children which, considering the current COVID-19 crisis and timing, during school holidays, was considered a success by the club.
In previous years about 30 children had signed up for the scheme.
Club chairman Ian Liversedge said: “I was delighted that All Stars was able to run at all this season due to COVID.”
Indeed, after only a few moments at the club one sunny Sunday morning, I could soon see and hear the abundance of fun and excitement the boys and girls were having.
Head of the coaching and entertainment was Bill Adamson, known as an ‘Activator’ in All Stars language, though in his case it could easily be Motivator.
Bill is in his element engaging with the children and his enthusiasm is shared by fellow activators, brothers Ben and Jim Chapman and Neil Liversedge.
During each one-hour session, the children practice all the essentials of the game, batting, bowling (overarm), catching and throwing, all with a plastic bat and soft ball.
They are also taught the basics of the game, the value of teamwork and how to respect others through the spirit of cricket
“All of the All Stars enjoyed their sessions, as I think did their parents and grandparents who were invited to join in with some of the batting, bowling and fielding exercises,” said Liversedge.
Delighted parents Jamie and Lottie Redden’s daughters Eliza (6) and Eveie-Jane (7), joined the All Star fun every Sunday morning.
Jamie said: “The girls absolutely loved it.”
Eliza said: “It was fantastic, I loved it,” and Eveie-Jane added: “I loved playing the sweep shot.”
There is no doubt getting the family involved is a key ingredient to All Stars.
Lottie said: “It’s nice that it is inclusive of boys and girls and they can come to a club where they can have fun and learn something together.”
Liversedge added: “Many All Stars from the very first year are still coming to the club to play cricket.
“That can only be a good thing for the long-term health of March Town Cricket Club and other cricket clubs.
“It has been very nice to see some of the parents and families taking an interest in the club and becoming members.”
The club’s under-13s side is now nearly made up completely of All Stars graduates and two of them – Harry Lefevre and Erin Brook – have represented Cambridgeshire this season. A further half dozen of them have had county trials.
“All Stars can only be good for the long-term viability of the club,” added Liversedge.
“The benefits to the young All Stars are many, including making friendships, learning new skills, learning about teamwork and getting out in the fresh air to do something different for an hour per week.”
All Stars is provisionally due to return to The Avenue in May 2021, with the prospect of Dynamos, a further ECB initiative for 8-11 year olds, starting next year.
Let us hope by that time the worst of the pandemic is over and All Stars will flourish again. It’s great fun and the future of the game depends on capturing the imagination of the young.