Walsh joins youngsters in London

Courtney Walsh & volunteers

Courtney Walsh shares a joke with youngsters in West London at the Street20 cricket event

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh joined youngsters for a street cricket session at the Westway Centre in West London on November 7.

Walsh, the record West Indian wicket-taker in Test and one-day international cricket, and an ambassador of the Jamaica Tourist Board was in London to promote a new sports strategy for his home island Jamaica.

Walsh took part in a session of Street20 cricket to support StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports.

The three-year StreetChance programme - an extension of Chance to Shine, the programme backed by the ECB - was launched in July 2008 and is initially being delivered across 10 London boroughs.

It is hoped that cricket to engage young people from a range of backgrounds in areas affected by youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

Walsh has been on a national roadshow tour which has included appearances and demonstrations at various state schools across the UK to highlight cricket and sport in Jamaica.

Walsh is keen to pass on his experience to British youngsters after 11 fruitful years as the overseas player at Gloucestershire between 1984 and 1998.

In addition to the 519 Test scalps and 227 ODI victims, Walsh took an astonishing 869 first-class wickets for Gloucestershire.

Walsh said: “I think it’s great that young people who have maybe not played cricket before can be introduced to the game in this easy-to-play version.

“Cricket changed my life and continues to change lives in this country and in Jamaica, so it is important that children have an easy route into the game.”

Mark Rampraskash & Courtney Walsh

Walsh has Mark Ramprakash lbw for a duck at Edgbaston in 2000, a series won by England

He gave some tips to youngsters who were playing Street20, a fast-paced version of the game requiring minimal equipment with everyone getting a chance to bat, bowl and field. It uses a tennis ball bound with tape to replicate a cricket ball.

Joining Courtney was former England fast bowler Devon Malcolm, himself born in Jamaica.

Malcolm, who had spells at Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, said: “With cricket attracting a new audience through Twenty20, it’s important the game can build on that.

“That means giving an opportunity to youngsters to play the game in built-up areas, including those at risk from crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Streetchance is a partnership between Chance to shine, Barclays Spaces for Sports, Cricket for Change, the Metropolitan Police Service and Positive Futures - a social inclusion project funded mainly by the Home Office.

StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports will aim, in the first year, to involve 5,000 young people in and out of school time across London.

The in-school activity, based on the Cricket Foundation’s Chance to shine model, provides 20 hours of professional cricket coaching and competition during the summer term.

Out of school hours, young people from schools and the local community will take part in a three-hour cricket session every week for 40 weeks each year.

In addition to the core programme, local Positive Futures teams will run self-development projects, with support from school liaison officers, to re-enforce messages about social exclusion, gang membership, drug and alcohol misuse, possession of weapons and remaining in education.