After an incredible summer that saw the England Men’s team lift the Cricket World Cup for the first time ever, we look at how those heroes are helping to inspire the next generation of cricketers in Walkden.
It really has been a summer that will never be forgotten by Cricket fans in England, and across the world. Star performances from Eoin Morgan and his men has thrust Cricket into the spotlight on the National stage, overshadowing football, and bringing new fans to the sport.
The World Cup final it’s self, between England and New Zealand, drew an incredible audience of over 8 Million people in the UK. This was largely helped by the decision to make it free to watch on channel 4, as well as on it’s usual home of Sky Sports Cricket.
It is extremely clear to see that the sport is once again on the up, after it’s last real boost following the now famous 2005 Ashes series. It isn’t just the National game that is thriving though, with local cricket clubs around the country seeing a new generation of young cricketers develop a love for the game.
Salford Now visited local side Walkden Cricket Club to see how this summer’s World Cup success has inspired more youngsters to get involved with Cricket, as well as seeing how the future stars are being developed so close to us.
“They all want to be like Buttler or Stokes”
Nathan Rushton is the Head Coach at Walkden Cricket Club and oversees the development of the young players.
“The club is one of the main club’s in the Bolton League, since the Bolton league was founded. It’s had a long history of developing young talent in the area in the area, into first team and second team cricket, picking up juniors from all different backgrounds, playing from under-9’s, all the way to under-18’s.
“Hopefully the aim is to then keep them playing after 18, into our first, second or third team.
“When the weather is really good and no school holidays, we are getting around 30-40 lads and girls down. One week we had like 50 kids, which was massive.”
Nathan explained how he feels the game is once again back at its best in England, with youngsters inspired by seeing the likes of Lancashire’s own Jos Buttler shine on the world stage.
“Kids are more aware of cricket now, especially with the amount of coverage it gets on TV. They all want to be like Buttler or Stokes, playing all these shots. It’s really impressive to see kids actually have an interest in cricket, even as young as 8 and 9.
“Even if they have never really touched a cricket bat or cricket ball, they really just want to get involved because they see it on the TV.”
— Salford Now (@SalfordNow) July 25, 2019
In 2016 participation numbers in cricket hit an 8 year low, with just over 278,000 people involved in the sport, compared to over 400,000 playing in 2007, despite England being on the end of a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes at the hands of Australia.
Now though Cricket is back on the rise. The popularity of the T20 Blast league in England is seeing a new generation of fans falling in love with the sport and wanting to be more involved. Just around the corner stars like Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone are shining for Lancashire across all formats of the game. Walkden Head Coach Nathan believes that this summer is exactly what cricket needed to create a new boom in participation.
“This is what cricket needed. Back in 2005 when we had just won the Ashes for the first time in a long time, Cricket went on a little bit of a boom and that’s what we needed this year. England to win the One Day World Cup means hopefully more people will be involved.”
The purpose of clubs like Walkden isn’t just to produce the next Jos Buttler or Ben Stokes though. It is about getting youngsters into sport at a time when computer games are taking over from physical activity.
“Get out, enjoy the sunshine and just be a part of a club. Even if it’s not Walkden, it’s about being out and being active. There’s many clubs in the area to get as many kids playing as possible.”