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Cricket surges forward

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Kent Girls

Girls' cricket has seen a sharp increase in club participation

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a 27 per cent increase in participation in club and school cricket during 2006/07, with women’s and girls' cricket recording the sharpest rise of 45 per cent.

The ECB survey, which sampled 424 focus clubs nationally, also shows a 22 per cent rise in black and ethnic minority groups playing cricket, a 16 per cent increase in volunteers and a 37 per cent increase in years five, six and seven school participation.

Speaking on the increase, ECB head of development Peter Ackerley said: “We have overhauled our data collection and research policy so we can now compare annual rises more effectively.

“This rise in participation shows that our partnerships between clubs, schools and their local communities are flourishing and cricket is a sport which youngsters want to be involved in.”

The ECB’s new head of women’s cricket, and former England captain, Clare Connor, said: “This is a massive boost for the women’s game just as our national squad arrive in Australia for the Ashes and one-day series. It provides a great foundation on which to build future England teams."

Clare Connor

Clare Connor is pleased with the results of the ECB survey

In addition to the 424 focus clubs surveyed in 2007, the ECB commissioned Paul Winstone Research to conduct an ECB club survey which mailed a questionnaire to 5,641 clubs. This wider sample will be used in future years to assess the growth of the game.

Ansty CC in Sussex are indicative of the clubs surveyed, reporting a 20 per cent increase in overall membership.

This winter, Ansty were able to set up a new Under-13 girls section with 20 girls being regularly coached and plans in place for a summer match programme.

Ansty have also formed close links with their local primary school, Harlands, who won the 2006 Asda Kwik Cricket Competition.

Last year, 30 volunteers were joined by members of the LV County Championship-winning side, Sussex CCC, and held a successful NatWest CricketForce event which helped them to renovate their facilities.

In Derbyshire, Elvaston CC, who were the first club to be accredited under the ECB clubmark scheme back in 2003, recorded a 47 per cent increase in participation.

In conjunction with the Cricket Foundation’s Chance to Shine programme, Elvaston has worked with 608 children either at the club or in their local schools.

Elvaston also had a 38 per cent increase in qualified coaches and has joined forces with a local group of visually impaired children. They now have 19 youngsters being coached in cricket skills through the initiative.