February 11, 2009

England cricket

Get smart, play cricket

Martin Williamson
Tony Blair opens the World Cup, Lord's, May 14, 1999
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Cricket rarely inspires Britain’s football-obsessed politicians - you only have to remember Tony Blair's embarrassing display opening the World Cup in 1999 to prove that. But in a breaking of ranks, Ed Balls, the schools secretary, waxed lyrical about the game’s ability to cure many of the nation’s education defects.

He said that cricket helps develop skills such as managing statistics and working out sums under pressure, could boost children's grasp of science, and help their maths skills. It is also an aid to history when studying the Commonwealth.

“Cricket is part of our national identity," Balls said. "Not only does it have obvious health benefits for young people, it also develops them in other ways – co-ordination, balance, team work, tactics, and remaining calm under pressure.

“Cricket is one of the most popular school sports and I'm convinced it can have benefits across the curriculum too. Cricket is often called an art and a science. It's time for schools to demonstrate that.”

However, words are one thing, actions another. Last month, the amount of central funding to cricket from Sport England was cut by a third.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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