COVENTRY is bucking the trend in England by introducing cricket nets for practice in a public parks.
While Australia’s public spaces offer such facilities, it is not the norm in England and Wales – and the game has been in decline for more than decade in terms of participation.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has responded in recent years by introducing a glitzy All Star Cricket national programme for five to seven-year-olds in clubs – including throughout Coventry and Warwickshire.
Now Coventry has opened a five-lane cricket net facility at Edgewick Park, Foleshill – and people who take part have a chance to see the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy later this year, hosted in this country including Edgbaston in Birmingham.
The net facility will be followed by more across the city – and is getting rave reviews. Recently local cricket clubs and residents tried out the new pitches.
Activities were held at a special event to mark the opening of the nets including a youth cricket tournament and a bowling and batting masterclass.
Edgwick Park’s new cricket nets are part of a partnership between the council and the ECB.
A £120,000 grant from the ECB will see another seven non-turf cricket pitches developed at Longford Park, Hearsall Common, Stoke Heath, Charterhouse Fields, Xcel Leisure Centre, Coundon Hall Park and War Memorial Park.
Cabinet member for public health and sport councillor Kamran Caan said: “These facilities are fantastic.
“We have dozens of parks throughout the city that we really want local people to make the most of.
“The more that people of all ages make use of their parks then this can offer health benefits as well as discourage elements who may in some circumstances commit anti-social behaviour.
“Cricket is such a great and inclusive sport that people of all backgrounds and ages can enjoy.
“I saw the pitches when work was first underway and to see them in full use is great.”
Ria Fackrell, a Coventry College student who was recently called up to the England Women’s Training Squad, also took a look at the pitches.
She said: “These facilities are going to give a lot more people a chance to play cricket and that is a good thing for the city and the sport.
“Everyone should have an opportunity to have a go at cricket and discover their talent, whether that is with a local club or casually with friends.
“Hopefully these new facilities can become a place where the stars of the future begin their cricketing journey.”
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