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Something must be working in Liverpool

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St Christopher's RC Primary, Speke in Liverpool St Christopher's RC Primary, Speke in Liverpool

Cricket in Liverpool seems to be blossoming at the moment.

St Christopher’s RC PS won the ASDA sponsored Year 6 (girls) Tournament whilst King David Primary School were the local winners of the Year 6 (Mixed) Tournament with both schools representing the city at the Lancashire Kwik Cricket County Finals, with the Year 6 (mixed) competition attended by 32 schools representing all of the boroughs in Lancashire.

Both schools ended their respective finals day as Runner-Up and duly earned the right to represent the County in the respective North West Regional Finals.  Thus, ‘Something must be working!’.

Liverpool is not a city that one immediately associates with cricket despite its association with Lancashire County Cricket Club in recent years with them playing a number of first class games at the historic cricket ground over the past 2 summers as Old Trafford has been experiencing a reincarnation from part 19th Century architectural legacy to 21st Century state of the art stadium. The city can boast current Lancashire CCC player who attended St Margaret’s C of E HS and played for Sefton Park CC before being invited to join the professional ranks at Old Trafford, this despite being born in Australia where he gained his early cricketing experiences.

The city currently boasts around 100 Primary/Junior schools, although this number is less than it once was as the population shrinks, and 22 secondary schools.  With reference to the above many of these schools have little or no links to a cricket club.

In 2008 the City Council Sports & Recreation Department entered into a 3 years partnership with the LCB to create the post of the Liverpool Community Cricket Development Coach to work with the Liverpool Cricket Development Group to lead on the consolidation and further development of cricket within the city.

This partnership arrangement was curtailed in February 2011 when the fiscal constraints faced by the City Council meant that this investment into this post and that into the posts of various other Sports Development Officers employed by the city were terminated.  Fortunately the post was retained through the LCB redefining the role within the parameters of the Cricket Foundation’s ‘Chance to Shine’ programme that is managed and delivered across the county via the LCB.  This post is one of 15 x ‘Chance to Shine’ Community Cricket Coaches employed and deployed by the LCB around the county.

The ‘Chance to Shine’ Programme seeks to support cricket in schools through working with schools that have been identified by the clubs that the LCB have invited to become C2S clubs.  In 2011 the clubs identified were Old Xaverians and Sefton Park who in turn identified up to 6 schools each, including 1 Secondary School, where a 3-year programme of coaching would be delivered that, with supporting infrastructure activities, would enable cricket to become embedded in to school’s future PE programme being delivered by the teaching and support staff. 

Old Xaverians elected their sister school St Francis Xavier’s College (SFX), where they share the use of the school’s facilities, along with 5 primary schools, St Paschal Baylon, St Gregory’s, Bishop Martin, Our Lady Bishop Eton and St Christopher’s, the latter being located in Speke.  Through previous successful networking by the volunteer coaches at this school linked with their ECB ClubMark related activities relationships were already in place between the club and these schools that the Community Coach was able to quickly follow up on and establish effective working relationships to deliver year 1 of the 3-years link working.

Despite holding ECB ClubMark status the club school links of Sefton Park CC were not as developed as those of Old Xaverian’s CC with the exception of their long established link with St Margaret’s C of E HS where the school have also developed the local Cricket Centre.  Links were made with surrounding schools, to the east in the ‘leafy’ ward of Mossley Hill Greenbank Junior, Dovedale Junior and St Anthony of Padua, the latter school declining the offer, whilst to west of the park, located in the socially and culturally diverse wards of Toxteth and the Dingle, the newly created Holy Family RC PS, Windsor Community PS and Shorefields Technical School (girls) were the partner schools.  This aspect of C2S Yr1 work was very different to that linked to Old Xaverian’s CC and their family of schools.

Changes to the infrastructure of C2S at the end of 2011 saw the Programme in Liverpool widened to bring in both Wavertree and Alder CC’s and some of their partner schools.  Wavertree have a solid track record over recent years in working with their nearby Primary Schools so it was easy to recruit Northway, Wavertree CofE and King David PS along with King David HS.  In the case of Alder one of their partner Primary schools, St Mary’s (West Derby) grabbed the opportunity to join the programme as too did their local partner Sports College, Cardinal Heenan, with whom they have a symbiotic relationship whilst others declined.

Thus, in 2012, C2S in Liverpool saw Cricket Coaching being delivered to 17 schools across the city with several of them making excellent use of this opportunity whilst the clubs are benefitting even more through the clear signposting to either the partner cricket club or the one nearest to the pupil’s home.

In 2012 23 of the city’s 100 Primary schools entered one or more of the ASDA sponsored Kwik Cricket tournaments, year 6 (girls), Year 6 (Mixed) and years 4/5 (Mixed) – unfortunately 2 attempts to stage the latter one were thwarted by the summer rains. Seven of this group, St Christopher’s, St Paschal Baylon, Our Lady Bishop Eton, Holy Family, King David Primary, Northway and St Mary’s (West Derby) are C2S schools, with 2 of them winning one of the 2 Tournaments that were completed.

To complete the circle, Liverpool U11’s District Cricket squad for the second year running have qualified for the last 8 of the LCB Inter District Tournament, The Bob Hurst Rose Bowl, whilst we had players in the County U11’s winter Development squad and had the confidence to nominate players for assessment for the newly created U 10’s squad.

We have made some progress since 2008, reflected in other players at older age groups gaining County recognition as well as local players gaining selection for the Merseyside U16’s 1-day Festival squad and Merseyside & South West Lancashire U16’s 2-days Festival Squads.

Our Achilles heel remains Women’s & Girl’s Cricket that reached a plateau in 2011 when the person driving the initiative was no longer available and impetus was lost despite a number of girls gaining county age group recognition.  This, alongside the consolidation and further development of the rest of our programme, is a primary target for the next 12-months.

So, behind the dominance of football, gymnastics, swimming, athletics and boxing in the sporting experiences of Liverpool school children cricket is ticking over and club junior sections are well supported and attended with the LCB and the C2S Programme making a significant contribution.

Dave Goodall
LCB Cricket Development Coach – Liverpool

 

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David Brooks 22/07/2012 10:11:07
Arlo White of the BBC made a similar observation about Liverpool not being a cricketing city during a programme he made for Radio 5 live at St. Benedict's College in Garston in 2004 in which he interviewed myself and a number of the juniors I had at Liverpool Cricket Club at the time. Radio 5 were inundated with contributors who debunked this as nonsense. A few years earlier, Simon Phythian and John Wylie had helped younger team managers such as myself revolutionise how junior cricket was hosted at Liverpool and the Monday night sessions that teemed with prospective and enthusiastic young cricketers was a sight to behold. Of course, it is quickly forgotten that Liverpool Cricket Club Under 15s reached the semi-final of the National U15 T20 KnockOut in 2003 and eventually finished third with that semi-final match, held at Bournemouth CC, being the only game that they lost all season - an astonishing achievement by anybody's reckoning. The greater achievement in some respects was by the team that had to follow that remarkable landmark. That Liverpool CC reached the Local T20 final only to be beaten in a last ball thriller (as they were in 2002) by an excellent Sefton Park side captained by a young man that has gone on to great things - Peter Kelly. They then won the Echo Cup - the trophy for the longer form of the game at U15 - defeating Huyton in the 40-over final. Many of that team went on to senior cricket and have proved themselves more than worthy of 1st and 2nd XI L&DCC cricket.
Unfortunately, in recent times, the evolution of the "coach" has been such that people that have hardly, if ever, played competitive cricket are in charge of entire junior cricket section. Whilst I would never belittle their enthusiasm and wholeheartedness, it seems inconceivable to me that these people could be able to correctly transmit the subtle nuances that separate cricket from so many other sports. I think this has to change. Whilst I accept without reservation that the day of the brusque old veteran calling his charges a bunch of so-and-so's when they fail to reach his expectations might be behind us, I cannot help but feel that the tail is somewhat wagging the dog. Discipline is a dirty word. Expectation is unwelcome. Competition is frowned upon. Odd then, that we want these children to play for cups and in leagues before they know where they are. It is a great dichotomy that cricket has always handled in its own unique fashion. That being that on the field I will do whatever it takes to win the game and 2 minutes after the end of the game I will buy you a glass of whatever you want in the clubhouse. As such discipline is inherently important. Not just good behaviour which goes hand in hand with cricket - or it should - but also the discipline on the pitch to perform the basic tasks that a cricketer is expected to be able to execute.
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