Hick backs early learning
Traditionalists may question Twenty20 as a game, but what they will not be able to doubt is the manner in which the international stars played the game during the recent World Cup in the West Indies.
Regardless of all the glitz and glamour, perhaps the most resounding success in the Twenty20 World Cup was demonstrating ‘The Spirit of Cricket’ is alive and well.
Despite the drama and tension throughout the competition the games were played hard but fair and the role model status of the players was enhanced.
Paul Collingwood's immediate reaction to being mobbed by his delighted teammates was to rush across to the Australian team he had just beaten, thanking them for the game. It was a fitting way to end a marvellous fortnight of competition.
‘The Spirit of Cricket’ is an initiative driven by the MCC and supported by the ECB, and is a quest to ensure cricketers of all levels play the game in such a way its future is safeguarded.
The role of coaches in preserving the unique way cricket relies upon the integrity of players has been highlighted by several high profile stars from the sport in recent weeks.
In January Mike Gatting spoke at the ECB CA conference about the importance of coaches setting an example to players and encouraged them to know the boundaries when it came to conduct on and off the field.
He suggested it was essential coaches pre-empted problems and adopted a stance on issues such as sledging, walking and time wasting.
Speaking exclusively to the ECB CA website, Graeme Hick has lent his considerable weight to the effort.
The former England and Worcestershire batsman is involved in incorporating the notion of ‘Spirit of Cricket’ with the Chance to shine programme. He wants the youngest cricketers just entering the game to appreciate how it should be played.
"Both my parents played a high level of sport,” said Hick. "When I started playing if they felt I over-stepped the mark in any way towards a decision or an opposition player or whatever, the first thing my parents would do as I walked off that field or court they would be on my back about it.
“So when I was growing up, and maybe even more so when I was playing professionally, I was always very aware of how I conducted myself.”
Hick realises that society has changed since the days he was growing up but he believes that makes the role of PE teachers and cricket coaches all the more crucial.
"I went through my whole school life at boarding school,” he added. “All of my discipline and the way in which I played my sport was enforced by my teachers and coaches.
“In many families these days both parents work. That means nowadays the coaches and teachers play an even more important role. The majority of them do a wonderful job.”
Gatting also recognises the important role PE teachers and cricket coaches must play if cricket is to be played in the right sprit.
"Players at the top level are aware they are role models,” said the former England captain. “They need to set an example to players in the recreational game. Cricket has lots of laws written down, but it relies on unwritten rules which need to be observed by players. Coaches need to have it clear in their mind what's acceptable and what's not, and it's their job to make that clear to their players, whatever standard of player they are dealing with.”