on the fast track at Durham
Paul McGregor - 11 January 2021
In the football
bastion of the north east of England cricket in schools and clubs
is making a healthy comeback thanks to the efforts of the Durham
Cricket Board Development Officers Nick Brown and John Windows.
Brown and Windows
have achieved encouraging results at the Riverside in the fightback
against soccer. In an interview with CricInfo, Brown stressed that
both the club and the Development Board need to make sure the infrastructure
is in place to introduce young people to the game, and to enable
the latent talent out there to reach its full potential. This applies
to both boys and girls and with the latter in mind Pauline Peel,
the ECB women's cricket development officer for Northumberland,
Durham and Cumbria, shared an office with Brown and Windows.
like a winter Under-14 Floodlit Tournament have been successfully
staged, with 30 clubs from Durham entering teams. Also the Batting
for Literacy Success project was seen as an innovative and successful
way to get cricket into the school day and also introduce local
youngsters to the excitement of international cricket at the Riverside.
80 schools entered the project, which aimed to help develop literacy
skills by designing a programme for the successful One Day Internationals
staged at the Riverside in 2000.
"There is no doubt that Lottery Funding has been an important
catalyst for development. The funding has enabled more coaches to
be active on improved outdoor and indoor facilities with young people
from primary through to secondary schools. Every effort is made
to ensure that youngsters are placed with a local club, and if they
wish into county age squads.
to bring them on from Kwik Cricket to real hard ball cricket. Not
everyone will reach first class standard and nor do they want to,"
Brown said. But he also emphasised the importance of a clearly defined
pyramid to mirror the aims and objectives of the national ECB initiatives.
"Talented players such as Paul Collingwood and Melvyn Betts
have come through the Durham system, and these can be role models
With four Durham
players currently touring India with the England Under-19 squad,
Durham must have got something right. "A key is to harness
the tremendous enthusiasm up here for cricket, "Brown concluded.
With around 200 schools taking part in one or other of the Durham-inspired
projects, it's no wonder that the Sports Council identified cricket
as the only sport that was increasing participation in Durham's
Primary Schools in 2000.
The trick has
been to join the resources of the County Board to those of the ECB.
Durham lends its resources as appropriate, and players like Neil
Killen and Simon Brown are always popular with schools.
It was once
said of Yorkshire that when they did well so did England. Will this
one day be said of the fruits of the development programmes in Durham?