Living in Lincolnshire, you might be forgiven for thinking cricket is not a big deal in the county. However, following England’s Ashes triumph in Australia this winter, one local club is doing all it can to increase the stature of one of the country’s most popular sports.
Lincoln based Lindum Cricket Club was formed in 1856 and, nearly 150 years since its inception, is still going stronger than ever. This was proven in remarkable fashion as the club has been rewarded for their ‘Lindum to Lords’ cricket academy project with the Inspire Mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire Programme – the first time a cricket club in the UK has been granted the award.
Hayley Cook, communications officer at Lincolnshire Sports, explained the significance of the accolade: “Being part of the London 2012 Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the ‘Lindum to Lords’ coaching academy have grabbed that opportunity with both hands.
“The Inspire Mark is awarded to projects which have been genuinely inspired by the Games and this coaching academy meets that criteria.”
Prior to their Inspire Mark success Lindum had tabled a bid to Sport England under a scheme called the Performance Enhancement Programme (PEP). The bid was ultimately successful – providing Lindum with money to buy some state-of-the-art technology.
They purchased a bowling machine, a fielding machine, two cameras capable of isolating specific moments, two laptops, and silicone software from New Zealand to record and analyse performance.
To help set up the newly purchased technologies, Lindum CC began working with Dr Sandy Willmott, a senior lecturer in the university’s Department of Sport Coaching and Exercise Science.
However, despite all their achievements and their obvious progression, this is only one club. Cricket remains on the back burner in terms of sports in the county.
Unlike the county’s neighbours Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, Lincolnshire’s cricket team play minor counties cricket, missing out on all the media coverage the first-class sides get.
Harry Pougher, the chairman of Lindum Cricket Club agrees that the county’s inhabitants are at somewhat of a disadvantage, but states that Lincolnshire-born players can still go on to play professionally.
Pougher said: “A child in Leeds or Nottingham can pop along and see first-class, and even Test players, day-in, day-out, and obviously if they’re going copy and aspire to them, they’ve got good role models.
“Lincolnshire is a big county with a low population, and obviously the cricketers are of a slightly lower standard, but in this day and age people get all over the place so there’s no reason why a player from Lincolnshire shouldn’t aspire to play for England. I know one or two in the past who’ve gone into first-class and done particularly well.”
One such success story is Grantham born Luke Wright – the Sussex and England all-rounder.
Wright began his career with Leicestershire as an 18-year-old, where he won the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2008 – an annual award given to the most promising youngster at each of the 18 first-class counties.
A year later, Wright moved down south to Sussex, picking up the award a further three times in 2004, 2005 and 2007, whilst representing England at youth level.
He made his One Day International and Twenty20 International debuts for the senior side in 2007, and was a regular fixture in England’s triumphant ICC World Twenty20 squad last year.
Harry Pougher believes England’s recent Ashes success – the first time they’ve won down under in 24 years – is key to attracting new members and fans for 2011, as well as their own recent success.
“Because of the equipment and the award, we expect there will be a boost in membership for next season, but if anything in the past is to go by, it’ll also be because of the Ashes and the victory out in Australia. It’s like a double surge we’re expecting.
“We’ve had meetings already at the junior committee, and we’re sending extra people on coaching courses to become qualified coaches,” Pougher explained.
“We’ve entered teams in the McKinnell’s Lincoln Youth League, and we’ve got 10 junior teams between the ages of nine and 17, and about 150 members. What that might increase to, I don’t know.”
For Lincolnshire, first-class cricket might just be a mere pipedream, but it’s clubs like Lindum CC who are at the forefront of the sport’s development in the county, and added to England’s continued success, cricket might just find itself with a prominent position on the Lincolnshire sports map sooner than we thought.Tweet