England stars support Urban Cricket

Ravi Bopara, Urban Cricket

Ravi Bopara demonstrates a hit to leg as Urban Cricket arrives in Highgate Park ahead of Birmingham's Test match this week

England’s Ravi Bopara and James Anderson managed to get some extra practise in today ahead of the third Ashes Test when they joined 40 youngsters for a game of Urban Cricket in Birmingham.

Bopara and Anderson, along with former England bowler Gladstone Small, were visiting the npower Urban Cricket facility in Highgate Park, which was officially opened in August 2008 as part of the grassroots cricket initiative.

The trio were there to pass on tips and advice to a group of local primary school children who use the facility.

The facility, which transformed a disused area of the park, was the third of five purpose-built facilities to be opened across the country as part of the Urban Cricket initiative.

Birmingham City Council, working in partnership with Warwickshire Cricket Board, regularly use the facility to run cricket coaching programmes for local schools to encourage children to lead more active lifestyles.

The facility is also open to the local communities to use at anytime. Over 1,000 children, young people and adults have benefited from the facility and the associated coaching that goes with the programme.

Bopara said: “It’s great to be in Birmingham to see how npower Urban Cricket is working. Judging by some of the children I’ve seen here today the scheme is really making a difference.

Urban Cricket

“There was lots of energy, not to mention some decent little cricketers who weren’t afraid to bang it in to me! It’s great to see kids getting stuck in and enjoying themselves.”

Anderson added: “It's fantastic to see initiatives such as npower Urban Cricket giving youngsters the chance to learn the game.

“A partnership approach like the one shown here between Birmingham City Council, Warwickshire Cricket Board, the ECB and npower is the key to building the firm foundations required for the development of grassroots cricket.”

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture at Birmingham City Council, said: “Urban Cricket can be hugely successful in helping young people lead more active lifestyles and maybe one day one of the youngsters using this facility will follow our current Ashes heroes into the England Test side.”

npower Urban Cricket, a grassroots project run in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board, was launched in 2006 with one clear goal: to get more children playing cricket.

Since its launch, npower and the ECB have distributed over 60,000 Urban Cricket kits to children in the UK, and the scheme has been responsible for the development of purpose-built cricket facilities in Birmingham, Sheffield, London, Nottingham and Manchester.