June 9, 2009

England cricket

Let's play hard ball

Jamie Alter

In India they’re worried about cheap and heavy bats affecting children’s cricket skills, but over in the UK its soft balls. That’s right, soft balls which, according to Conservative MP Tony Baldry, are jeopardising the future of the English game.

“The concern I was raising with ministers in the House of Commons was that a tiny number of cricket matches in schools – about 4% - are played with real cricket balls,” Baldry said. “If we’re going to enhance youngsters coming through secondary schools into club cricket, we have to let them play cricket with cricket balls. They’re playing with soft balls. A cricket ball has a seam, and if you’re a bowler, a batsman or a fielder you need to know how a cricket ball feels. "

His comments were disputed by former professional Wasim Khan, who works for the ECB’s Chance To Shine. He argued the type of ball did not matter. "If you look at India and Pakistan, for example, within schools they play tape ball cricket, which is just a tennis balls wrapped in tape and talent seems to come through there.”

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Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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