All Stars Cricket is being praised for putting the heartbeat back into the future of mid and west Wales cricket.
Clubs like Dolgellau, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth are using All Stars, an initiative introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board this summer, to recruit a new generation of young cricketers.
“In terms of cricket development this is probably the best thing the England and Wales Cricket Board has brought in in my lifetime,” insisted Dolgellau Cricket Club All Stars Activator Gareth Lanagan.
“It means we are getting kids at an early age we will see the future cricketers of our area.
“If you go to England there is a lot of village clubs that are thriving but there are a lot of places around Dolgellau, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth which don’t have any clubs anymore.
“Dolgellau has probably got the biggest catchment area of any club in Wales. We take kids from Towyn, Bala and Blaenau Ffestiniog.”
Added Gareth: “The first thing is to get kids playing cricket and the dream is that these players that I’m coaching will one day replace me in the first team.
“The sessions are all about giving kids a chance to play cricket in an area maybe where they wouldn’t get that chance and it’s creating a buzz about cricket.”
Andi Price, All Stars Activator at Aberystwyth Cricket Club, has no doubts of the positive impact of All Stars on local cricket.
“I think All Stars is absolutely fantastic. It’s brilliant to be honest,” he said.
“We are trying to get an Under-11 team going and that has always been a weak area. The knock-on effect of that is that the Under-15s is weak and the second team and then eventually the first team will suffer.
“Hopefully All Stars will make the Under-11s stronger and that will create a springboard for all the other teams to thrive.
“And the other knock-on effect will be that some of the parents, who have brought their children down to All Stars, will get involved in the club.”
Jenny Pitchford, Activator for Aberaeron Cricket Club, said: “I think there has been some really good thought gone into the All Stars programme. The children are learning cricket techniques but by having fun as well.
“There isn’t a huge amount of cricket in mid-Wales and it’s difficult for parents to travel.
“We do have a junior side but not enough to fill a whole team at the moment, so I’m hoping that in five years we will be able to fill more than one team. But we can also restart things like the Mid-Wales County League.”
With the support of Cricket Wales, local schools, businesses and clubs, word about All Stars Cricket and cricket sessions for other age groups has spread.
For £40 children get an hour’s week coaching per week over an eight-week period from fully trained and vetted organisers delivering game-based basic cricket skills – catching, throwing and hitting moving balls and promoting team work and communication.
On registering for All Stars Cricket each child will get branded kit including a cricket bat, ball, shirt, cap, backpack and water bottle.
Parents can register their child by going to allstarscricket.co.uk