Kids get into Spirit of Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards will take the Women's World Cup to New End primary school for the launch of the fair play scheme today

Thousands of school children across England and Wales will take part in an MCC Spirit of Cricket session to promote the importance of fair play this summer term.

The initiative in 3,000 Chance to Shine primary and secondary state schools, for eight to 14-year-olds, is launching today at New End primary school, near Lord’s.

England women’s World Cup-winning captain Charlotte Edwards, ECB director of cricket partnerships Mike Gatting and MCC secretary & chief executive Keith Bradshaw will be in attendance.

The drive to teach youngsters fair play comes as new research by the Cricket Foundation and MCC suggests that children’s enjoyment of sport is in danger of being spoiled by poor behaviour on the playing field.

To help combat this at grassroots level, MCC - guardian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket - and the Cricket Foundation have teamed up for a nationwide scheme to encourage fair play.

At the launch, children involved in the scheme will take part in the first session, both in class and in the playground.

The youngsters will also have an opportunity to hold the Women’s World Cup that England won in Australia last month.

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, backed the scheme, saying: "It’s massively important as a sportsman to play hard, play fair, respect your opponent and respect yourself."

The image of the Lancashire all-rounder embracing Australian Brett Lee seconds after England's two-run defeat at Edgbaston was the most poignant one of the 2005 Ashes.

Brett Lee & Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after England's two-run victory at Edgbaston is an iconic image of the 2005 Ashes

Flintoff added: "He played so well in that Test. We tried to bowl him out, we tried to knock him out. We tried everything, but he wouldn't budge.

"So, after it happened, I went over, put my arm around him and, I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was some words of consolation.

"Probably the reason why I did it is he did not deserve to be on the losing team - and obviously I have great respect for him."

In a survey, commissioned by MCC and the Cricket Foundation, 52% of children aged eight to 16 said they see unfair play regularly in games.

It also provided a contrast between the sexes with less than a fifth of girls (18%) considering doing something unfair to win, compared to 31% of boys.

John Stephenson, MCC's head of cricket, said: "MCC strongly believes that competition is good for children and that sport should be played to win.

"However, it's equally important to have respect for all those involved in the game, be it the captain, the officials, the opposition or your own team."