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Festival of Cricket hits Birmingham

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The ECB has announced a new initiative to raise awareness of how people can get involved in cricket across the West Midlands

In the build-up to the third npower Test at Edgbaston, the ECB has announced a new initiative designed to capitalise on the profile of international cricket, and the England cricket team, to raise awareness of the many ways in which people can get involved in cricket across the West Midlands.

In hosting and supporting a number of cricket-related events in the days leading up to the Test, the ECB, in partnership with Warwickshire, believes it can build on the existing levels of interest to help elevate the profile of the Test and ensure it is a major event in the ‘life’ of the city of Birmingham.

This will create an opportunity for the ECB to showcase its development and grassroots initiatives to a greater number of people from a far wider and more diverse background, all of which will support the ECB’s drive to grow the popularity of the game across the country.

Steve Elworthy, ECB director of marketing and communications, said: “This initiative delivers against our overall objectives around the promotion of international cricket. We already work closely with all grounds to help maximise attendances at matches.

“However, as the governing body responsible for ensuring the long-term prosperity of the game, we have a wider responsibility to use the profile of these matches, and of the England team, as a platform to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in cricket whether that be playing, coaching, volunteering or watching.

“This is the first year we have undertaken a project of this nature and the feedback so far has been excellent. We are keen to understand how we can roll-out this concept more extensively in the coming years.”

These events have been running since August 5 and will continue until August 8.

On August 5, the ECB hosted a Last Man Stands tournament at Sutton Coldfield CC. As part of its ongoing drive to get more people playing the game the ECB is keen to encourage more and more businesses to provide opportunities for their staff to play cricket.

Chris Tremlett & Jonathan Trott

England's Chris Tremlett, left, and Jonathan Trott hosted a coaching clinic for local children with profits from the event going to charity

The fun and informal nature of Last Man Stands is seen as an ideal vehicle to help grow cricket in this market. This eight-a-side Twenty20 form of the game started in London in 2005 with just 26 teams.

Six years later there are now over 300 teams playing across the country. It is played in parks, on recreational grounds and school pitches and is aimed at people who haven't played cricket for a while or don't feel they have the ability, confidence or time to join a cricket club.

On August 7, the ECB supported a charity cricket match at Bournville CC between an England Disabilities XI and an Army Development XI.

England cricketers Chris Tremlett and Jonathan Trott attended the event and hosted a coaching clinic for local kids and all proceeds of the day going to support the Army Benevolent Fund and Royal British Legion.

This event was designed to raise people’s awareness of disability cricket and highlight the opportunities that are available for people with any form of disability to play cricket.

August 8 sees the arrival of the ECB’s ‘Cricket in the City’ in Victoria Square, Birmingham. This day-long event will capitalise on the hype ahead of the third npower Test and use the draw of current and past players from England, India and Warwickshire to encourage people, especially kids, to come along, get involved and test their cricket skills.

Fans will be able to meet players from both teams, take part in a number of interactive cricket challenges, sign a message of support for the teams and have their picture taken with the npower series trophy.

Birmingham was selected as the venue for the first of these events as it has been highlighted as a priority area for development by the ECB’s recreational development team.

Further information on how to get involved in cricket is available at www.ecb.co.uk/getinvolved.