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CRICKET UNLEASHED


Question:  What is ‘Cricket Unleashed’?

Answer:  It’s ECB’s latest nationwide campaign to boost the game in this country – and Northamptonshire is buying into it.

“It originated with the idea of getting all cricket working in the same direction – grass roots, professional or whatever,” explains David Hartley, chairman of both Northamptonshire Recreational Cricket’s board and the Northamptonshire Cricket League.

“We need to try to stop the flow of cricketers – young and not so young – out of the game.

“We want to maintain what we have, but at the same time introduce different forms of cricket – in particular shorter forms – to keep people playing.”

One of the initiatives will see the return of what used to be a popular format among the local cricket fraternity.

The plan is to organise an indoor competition on Sunday evenings at the Lings Forum sports centre in Northampton, in association with the Northampton Leisure Trust.

And ECB have agreed funding, both to market the new league and provide the necessary netting to keep spectators and other centre users safe.

Another proposal – which could come in as early as next summer – would see changes to the current NCL Hevey Twenty Cup.

“At the moment, it tends to involve mainly clubs in our higher divisions - with just the odd team from lower down,” says Hartley.

“What we want to do is improve that competition – maybe by playing matches on a Sunday instead of midweek, when it’s hard for clubs to put out a side.

“And we’d like to have ‘mini-leagues’ with possibly three games involving clubs from the lower divisions at one venue on the same day.”

Other targeted reforms include expanding cricket for women and girls, for example, and extending the ‘Last Man Stands’ format with the opportunity for businesses to field sides.

Also, encouraging parents to sign up their five-to-eight year olds for ECB’s nationwide ‘All Stars Cricket’ programme.

“That’s one of the big initiatives.  People will be directed to local clubs who are involved with it. 

“Here in Northamptonshire we want to hit a target of 30 clubs out of the 39 who are currently running a youth programme. 

“And those same clubs will be used as our focal point to get ideas for Cricket Unleashed – how we can best provide cricket locally.”

More information (including facts and figures outlining the background to the campaign) is available through the Cricket Unleashed website – www.cricketunleashed.com

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