MCC marks Tower Hamlets turnaround
An MCC team including the club's president Phillip Hodson will take on the Tower Hamlets District Schools' side in a match designed to highlight the renaissance of cricket in a deprived inner-city area.
Tower Hamlets is an inner-city London borough with a high ethnic diversity, significant socio-economic deprivation, and limited cricket playing facilities. Following a large investment from the Tower Hamlets School Sports Partnership in 2007, the Tower Hamlets Schools' Cricket Association was formed, and a bespoke Cricket Development Officer was employed for the borough.
Since then, a comprehensive coaching and competition programme has been introduced, which has resulted in all 83 schools in the borough now playing competitive cricket across five kwik cricket tournaments and two full hard-ball secondary competitions each summer.
A Tower Hamlets District Schools' Cricket team also exists for the most talented players to develop along the representative pathway. Since the programme was introduced, more than 50 Tower Hamlets pupils have progressed to play for an ECB Premier League focus club, with five competing at first eleven standard.
In addition, eight pupils have been selected to play county age-group cricket, and at the end of last summer, Dipayan Paul, from Sir John Cass School and Blackheath CC, was selected to join the MCC Young Cricketers squad for 2012. Pupils also have the chance to undertake coaching and officiating qualifications through the programme.
This game will celebrate five years of cricket being delivered in schools across the borough, and the formation of the Tower Hamlets Schools' Cricket Association. It will start at 11.30am at Blackheath Cricket Club.
The MCC play around 500 matches a year right around the world against teams ranging from schools to international sides in an attempt to help increase cricket's reach and appeal. They also fund the MCCU system which plays a part in producing around 24% of England-qualified cricketers in the county game.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo