By Bruce Talbot, ECB Reporters Network
Sussex’s Community Cricket Foundation has begun an ambitious five-year Urban Plan to grow and develop the game in Crawley, one of the county’s cricket hotspots.
The plan has been described as a ‘game changer’ in a diverse area of the county where the demand for cricket is growing across all sections.
The first phase of the plan has already begun, with the planned installation of six new artificial pitches during 2022, which will initially also help to welcome back those Crawley clubs that have had to play home matches outside the town.
Three of the pitches will be established at a brand-new venue for clubs to use, which is due for completion at the end of the year.
Sussex are working with 12 Crawley-based clubs and the county’s Community Cricket Director Gary Wallis-Tayler says the ‘can do’ approach to driving change has been ‘refreshing and exciting’.
“Crawley is an important area of the county for us,” he said.
“There is huge demand for cricket across the town amongst the local communities and it’s our job to provide as many opportunities for people to play the game as possible whether that’s at school, a club or at a local community session.
“By creating a five-year plan for Crawley it shows our commitment to making a difference, inspiring the next generation and to help solve the facilities issues that the area face.”
The project will expand over the next 12 months with indoor facilities currently not available in the Crawley area to be established before the rollout of new outdoor nets and the refurbishment of existing net facilities over the next two years.
The project is being undertaken alongside West Sussex Council, Crawley District Council in addition to local community groups and schools as the county bids to reach out to more people.
The 12 clubs involved represent the diverse population in the area with Crawley, Crawley Eagles, Himani, Ifield, Ram, Three Bridges, Tilgate, Crawley Nayee, Hindu Unity, Forgewood Kilnwood Vale, Smallfield Manor and Crawley Down involved.
The Crawley Wellbeing team, Active Sussex and the county’s facility providers BAM are also locked into the action plan with support from the ECB to help drive more opportunities for people to play.
Further financial assistance from the Cama Charitable Trust will help fund the project which is targeting cricketers across all ranges from juniors to club players, male and female.
Sussex’s Central Area Territory Manager, Matt Parsons works regularly in Crawley and has describes the Urban Cricket Plan, which Sussex are also rolling out in Brighton & Hove, as a ‘game changer’.
"Crawley is a vibrant, exciting and diverse place to play cricket. Not only will it bring all Crawley-based teams back into Crawley but it will grow the game and help sustain the sport for years to come,” he said.
“Demand continues to grow across all areas of the game, whether it be boys, girls, men, women, those who have played for a long time or those new to game, those needing additional support or those able to play independently, whatever the individual circumstances of those wanting to enjoy the game, they will have the opportunity to do so in Crawley, at a club that's able to provide it for them.
“It will help create a much-needed boost to the infrastructure in Crawley to ensure this becomes a reality for years to come."