Johanna's dream comes true
Schoolchildren all over the country took part in a national celebration of cricket with Johanna Primary in London being turned into a 'Cricket Dream School'.
Hundreds of schools from Cornwall to Durham enjoyed cricket classes, break time batting and inter-school tournaments on Chance to Shine’s ‘Brit Insurance National Cricket Day’.
At Johanna Primary School, near Waterloo, a host of cricket-related VIPs assisted teachers in cricket-themed lessons across the Curriculum.
Minister for Sport and The Olympics Hugh Robertson got the ball rolling with an MCC Spirit of Cricket Assembly before joining a special PE class with England fast bowler Chris Tremlett, fresh from his success at the Rose Bowl.
Robertson paid tribute to Chance to Shine, calling it a "fantastic scheme".
He said: “The important thing about days like today is that it brings cricket to schoolchildren and it's brilliant to see them enjoying the game against a backdrop of all our teams performing well.”
Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, who is President of Chance to Shine, helped in a cricketing maths lesson where Year 3 pupils worked out coordinates through the position of fielders on a cricket pitch.
Cricket broadcaster and Chance to Shine co-founder Mark Nicholas took the English/Media class, while former England wicket-keeper turned professional artist Jack Russell supported the Year 6 Art class, where pupils took part in a Slazenger bat sticker design competition.
ITV1 Daybreak’s weather presenter Lucy Verasamy, who previously fronted the weather updates for Sky Sports cricket programmes, helped Year 2 pupils place the world’s cricket-playing nations in Geography; and the Barmy Army’s Billy “The Trumpet” Cooper, a music teacher by trade, gave the Year 1 Music class a cricketing twist.
After his heroic efforts for England at the Rose Bowl earlier this week, where he claimed 6-42 runs, Tremlett swapped terrorising Sri Lanka’s batsmen with teaching youngsters cricket skills.
“It’s a great cause," he said. "I was lucky that I had a PE teacher who loved cricket and I could play the game at a state school, but the opportunities to play matches were limited. Getting kids out there and being active is good for them and good for the game too.”
Speaking at the school event, Sir Mervyn said: "Cricket is the ultimate team game. It can play a unique role in the education of children, aiding learning and instilling confidence. I hope today’s participants have benefited in both ways, which in turn will help us all in years to come - both on the cricket field and off.”
Dane Douetil, CEO Brit Insurance, who was also assisting in the classroom at Johanna Primary as part of the company’s Employee Volunteering Scheme, added: “I am delighted that Brit Insurance has chosen to support Chance to Shine to help them reach into classrooms and deliver cricket skills to children from all cultures and backgrounds. It makes sense to use our influence in the sport as the catalyst to make a positive difference in our local community."
Elsewhere in the country, past and present England players went back to school to support Brit Insurance National Cricket Day. Thanks to the ECB and Professional Cricketers’ Association, eight England internationals were involved: Moeen Ali (England Lions, Worcestershire) Richard Blakey (England, Yorkshire) Andy Caddick (England, Somerset), Robert Croft (England, Glamorgan), Neil Fairbrother (England, Lancashire), Jon Lewis (England, Gloucestershire), Anthony McGrath (England, Yorkshire), Graham Onions (England, Durham). And no England cricket line-up would be complete without a South African so Wayne Parnell, currently playing for Sussex, who took part in a beach cricket event in Brighton.
At Chelmsford, pupils from Chelmer Valley High were out in force at the Ford County Ground supporting the England Women’s Team as they take on New Zealand Women on Brit Insurance National Cricket Day. They were returning the favour after England Women Cricketer of the Year and Chance to Shine Coaching Ambassdor, Lydia Greenway, took a coaching session with girls last week.
Nearly 4,000 schools registered for Brit Insurance National Cricket Day and were planning cricket-themed lessons in class, coaching in the playground, competitions at local cricket clubs and beach cricket festivals.
In Cornwall, Cape Cornwall School, Redruth School, Helston School, Penair School, Roseland Community College and Wadebridge school took part in a beach tournament at Perranporth. Over in Brighton, St. Margaret's school, Patcham School, St Luke's and Mile Oak School were also involved in the joint Chance to Shine/Marylebone Cricket Club inter-school beach competition.
While schoolchildren in England and Wales were enjoying their day of cricket, schools as far afield as Afghanistan, Australia and Japan were also getting involved. The Afghan Connection charity, in partnership with MCC Spirit of Cricket, gave the day an international feel by organising a girls' cricket camp in Mazar–i-sharif, North Afghanistan; while Willmott Park Primary School in Victoria, South Australia organised indoor cricket and classroom activity despite it being the football season Down Under.
Over in Japan, the Japan Cricket Association worked with young groups of children on cricket skills at Akami Jr High School in Sano, the home of cricket in Japan. The captain of the Japan's women's team, Ema Kuribayashi helped run the cricket skills clinic. The JCA runs an initiative called ‘Cricket for Smiles’ which, like Chance to Shine, encourages more youngsters to play cricket. One of their aims is to go into areas of Japan worst affected by the March earthquake and deliver cricket equipment and resources to those who have lost everything.
Back home, Chance to Shine once again received support from the England and Wales Cricket Board, Marylebone Cricket Club, Slazenger, The Lord’s Taverners and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, as the whole cricket community got behind the day.