Cricket jets off in Durham

Since Lanchester EP Primary School in County Durham received Chance to Shine cricket sessions for the first time in 2019, the sport has really taken off across the school. Whilst the school had previously offered some cricket for pupils in Years 4-6 they had nothing on offer for Years 1 and 2; also, external providers were rarely keen to work with the younger years.

Off the back of the success of the sessions, PE Teacher Lewis Graham, says there is now a big demand for more cricket – including amongst children who are usually less active in classes. “It’s basically taken over break times, lunch clubs, afterschool clubs. A lot of children just want to play cricket now, so it’s fantastic.” He also tells us how the basic physical literacy of the children and their fine motor skills have improved significantly, noting the importance of providing opportunities at a younger age during an important developmental phase for the pupils.

Staff at the school have really embraced the programme, getting involved in sessions themselves and helping to make sure the children are all engaged. They have been using the Chance to Shine portal to deliver activities outside of the coach-led sessions – building their own confidence to deliver cricket over the long term. Chance to Shine and Durham Cricket coach Phil Mellons has been really impressed with the commitment amongst the teachers to support their pupils to get active: “The school staff have been absolutely unbelievable. They’re constantly engaged with the kids, they’re involved in the sessions. They actually video the sessions so they can replay the games when we’re not there!”

Phil’s admiration for the staff at Lanchester is very much reciprocated, Lewis admits to being in awe of Phil’s coaching:

“Phil’s been absolutely outstanding. He’s just so enthusiastic about the sport and it just rubs off onto the children, he’s just been amazing.”

Most importantly, the children are having a great time. Kate, in Year 2, told us “[What] I like about cricket is that you get to meet new people”, while classmate, Oliver, said “I get to play with my friends and it makes it more fun”.

As well as getting these children more active, the sessions are helping participants develop in other ways. Lewis told us, “Cricket teaches a lot of pair work, a lot of group work, just teamwork overall, and we’ve seen a big difference since Chance to Shine came into the school”.

The school in Lanchester is not the only place that cricket has taken over. Local Lanchester Cricket Club has seen a huge influx in youngsters going along to their All Stars Cricket sessions with 55 pupils from the school joining the centre there.

A passion for the sport has been sparked at Lanchester Primary School and as seven yearold George confidently tells us, the children are determined to keep on playing: “I’m going to play for Lanchester, Durham Jets and England”. With the appetite for the sport in the area that now exists, you would be foolish to reckon against it!

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