StreetChance National Competition: Manchester triumph in a last ball thriller…. but cricket is the winner

Young people from across the country made their way to Birmingham yesterday (16 February) to take part in the first 2012 National StreetChance Competition.

Teams from Bristol, Birmingham, Dewsbury (West Yorkshire), London and Manchester gathered at the National Indoor Arena to compete in an inter-city half-term street cricket tournament.

Nearly 100 children, aged eight to 18, took part in six-a-side matches, split into a junior (under 14) and senior competition. StreetChance is a fast-paced version of the game which uses a tape-ball; a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape and lasts 20 minutes and gives every player the opportunity to bat, bowl and field.

Joining the young people and their coaches were two cricket legends, former England Ashes-winning captain, Mike Gatting, and fast bowler Gladstone Small. They took time to give the young participants coaching tips and advice ahead of matches.

Games were played in a competitive, yet sporting, spirit and after the round-robin matches, teams from Bristol and London’s White City Estate faced each other in the final of the junior competition. Bristol batted first and were restricted to 20 runs off five overs. After a shaky start by White City, calm was restored before some big sixes led to an emphatic victory for the London side. It was their first victory at a competition after previously finishing runners-up.

It was ‘War of Roses’ in the final of the senior competition and the rivalry between Dewsbury and Manchester teams was intense. Manchester went into bat first and scored a competitive 27 off their allotted twenty balls. Dewsbury felt the pressure which led to a couple of costly run-outs. However, they stayed in the match and needed six off the last over. Some cool-headed bowling by captain Omar Yazdani in the final over kept Manchester on top as Dewsbury batsmen were only able to squeeze two runs from the first three balls, leaving Dewsbury needing four off the final ball. A lofted drive found its way into the hands of a Manchester player and the match was over.

Speaking after the final Gladstone Small said, “I love the enthusiasm and skill of these youngsters. StreetChance is a good introduction and gives them cricketing opportunities. But more importantly it occupies their time and minds and that cannot be underestimated.”

After picking up his winners’ medal and lifting the cup, Omar Yazdani, 16, from Crummsal, Manchester elatedly said, “At these competitions, we’re tested physically and learn how to handle pressure. We were playing to give something back to Manchester and to our coach. StreetChance is keeping me good at school and it stops me from messing around and getting into police matters.”

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