ECB takes Kwik Cricket to Iraq
A Royal Military Police (RMP) officer swapped bullets for bouncers to bring cricket to the schoolchildren of Basra Province - with ECB's help.
Supported by ECB, the six-month project in Iraq helped the British troops to appear less threatening and encouraged the locals to report any terrorist activity.
Major Andrew M. Banks (right), the Officer commanding 110 Provost Company RMP, taught the notoriously bewildering rules of cricket in Arabic to a traumatised and suspicious population embroiled in a sectarian struggle.
Major Banks, who returned from a seven-month tour based in Basra at the end of last year, and “wouldn’t dream of deploying without my cricket bat”, ran a similar scheme in Afghanistan.
He was in charge of the Iraqi project, which used Kwik Cricket, developed by the ECB as a basic form of the game and involved hundreds of children at the school around the Basra Airfield.
Major Banks initially had to overcome cultural differences and local cynicism.
He said: “The Iraqis had no concept of bat and ball games, which I found quite surprising. The teachers have seen a lot of projects come out of the West so they were sceptical until they saw the kids having fun.
“They never quite understood the lbw law but they enjoyed themselves and that was what mattered.”
Oliver Mott, who managed the project for the ECB, said: “It’s fantastic to see the positive aspects of cricket being used to such good effect in this difficult situation.
“Cricket, of all sports, is very good at teaching the benefits of teamwork and fair play while being excellent fun.”
ASDA donated the kits, which proved perfect for the testing conditions of Iraq.
ASDA Kwik Cricket is a simple game for all boys and girls from 5 years of age upwards.
It is the result of many years of detailed product development and research by the England and Wales Cricket Board in consultation with cricket coaches, Cricket Development Managers, education authorities, teachers and children.
Schools and clubs across England and Wales play Kwik Cricket with more than 110,000 children taking part in last year’s national competition sponsored by ASDA.