(Thanks to George Sessions at the Ham & High) - dont forget to pick up your copy of the Ham & High or Islington Gazette tomorrow …
Johan de Silva, director of junior cricket at Highgate Cricket Club in north London, really hit one out of the park on Sunday for his kids!
As the country’s biggest All Stars programme – the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB’s) initiative for five to eight-year-olds - Johan is creating the future for Cricket in North London and as a reward, the club kids got to walk out with their cricketing heroes on Sunday ‘s world Cup final at Lords.
“It came about because we are the largest All Stars Cricket Centre in the UK ; we had 728% growth last year, our club is absolutely buzzing with juniors.”
So kitted out in caps and t-shirts the boys & girls aged 5 -13 were each allocated to a cricketer and walked out for the anthems, watched the game and had 3 activities, batting bowling and fielding mid innings - the stuff of dreams for any youngster.
Parents, Club Volunteers and De Silva all watched on for the nerving tingling match that surely will become a ‘I was there’ moment for all of us.
As a grass roots and locally very active club Highgate is trying to increase participation for all children across the Borough. As a result the children at the club, are reasonably diverse, despite the affluent area. “We work in schools within less well-off areas of the Borough,” he said “It’s not the cheapest sport to play, it’s difficult, but we try to offer sessions in as many schools as possible but as a volunteer-led club its hard to resource; Cricket needs the sort of profile it got on Sunday on terrestrial TV to help club's like Highgate to attract funds to make a difference and engage children in this sport.
It was really important to get the kids to Lords too; they were rewarded for both their own, their parents and the volunteer coaches commitment to Highgate CC in recent years. It was truly inspirational to watch and be part of such a great game. It was difficult but I selected kids who have been with the club for quite some time and we felt engaged well with our sessions in Summer, Autumn and Spring.
Johan's thoughts on the day - a long and rewarding day, with kids assembling at 8.15 for rehearsals prior to the anthem ceremonies. The kids were well behaved throughout and had an amazing experience talking to professional cricketers (some even gave them some souvenirs - shout out to Trent Boult & Jimmy Neesham) as well as the chance to play on the Lord's outfield. Once in a lifetime. Oh, and then there was the game! And what a game it was!
Some direct quotes from the children via mums and dad's give us a real understanding of just how sport and events like this can be so transformational:
Fred said (It knocked the ODI, where Ian Botham shook his hand and said “well bowled”, off its perch): “That was the best day of my life.” He walked out with Stokes, who was incredibly nice. Stokes asked him what he did; Fred said he was a leggy; and Stokes said to Rashid, watch out, here’s one coming up behind you. Fred also got to smack two balls into the stand during the interval: a very nice feeling! The whole day was an incredible buzz. Two of his cricket biography hero’s were right next to him in the flesh: Tendulkar and Strauss. Strauss said hello, as did Shane Warne, who was strolling past!
I have never seen Khiluv so exhausted. He said he needed to step out as it was so intense. He came home singing Barmy Army and doing the dance. He said the people next to him were patting his back (he was also heard swear words from peeps other than his mother). He was with J Bairstow and wished Bairstow and Woakes good luck! We are all still just so .... I don’t know.......it really happened and we are so so so ecstatic.
Tom walked out with Moeen who greeted him with ‘Alright boss?’. He got to shake hands with the legend that is Tendulkar and also smacked a couple into the stand at lunchtime. His first ever 6 - ok, that might be pushing it a bit! He was so fizzy and ecstatic when he got home. What a day!
Wyn said he wanted to watch the whole game again when we got home (I let him watch the start) and was beside himself with excitement. I’m really glad to hear they did the club proud with their behaviour. Thanks again for everything
Ben’s quotes taken from his contemporaneous texts during the match:
18.04: It’s not looking good😩
19.03: Super overrrrrrer
I’ve lost my voice
This is crazyyy
Toby....It was an amazing day, absolutely epic!
He walked out with Trent Boult who asked him if he was supporting NZ on the day. Toby assured him he was supporting England even though he has some Kiwi blood. Toby also acknowledged that he watched cricket history being made and it was something he knows he will talk to his grandchildren about!
Yevi - It was amazing.
Neesham was kind enough to give Yevi his cap. “One epically awesome day that only happens when you dream” was my quote for the day😀thank you Johan
Connor says thanks Johan - Henry Nicholls was really nice and told me his son is called Connor. It was an amazing day - a once in a lifetime opportunity- and I loved it.
James said he had an amazing day. He was nervous about going into the pitch but all was fine when Joe Root gave him a high five. He wanted it to be a tight game, but it was too tight. Last ball, head in hands and heart pounding like a rocket about to explode.
Daniel said he had an incredible day. He felt really proud when they were on the pitch and the anthem was being sung. He wants to play more cricket so that he can be a great batsman like Stokes !
Monty says he had an amazing day. He walked out with Jos Buttler who was really friendly - he said Monty should kick his wicketkeeper pads to test them out, and that he nearly broke his toe on them. His best moment was realising that Stokes hadn’t been caught on the boundary and that it was a six instead. We had to re-enact that moment, and most of the rest of Stokes’ innings, in his bedroom, in his pyjamas, before he’d go to bed last night. And then he wore his World Cup cap to school on Monday!
Sanjay got to walk out with Joffra Archer...Sanjays day started and ended with him. He asked Sanjay "Who do you think will win" and Sanjay said "England of course" . This match was one of the " I was there" moments !
“It was the best day of my life”
“I was glowing inside when I walked out with the players”
“When England won my smile was bigger than my face!
Gil has a terrific time .
“I hit a boundary at Lords, that’s something to think about”
“That was a big day and a very big crowd”
“Hopefully next time I walk out I’ll be the captain!”
Also Gil’s young (4yr old) cousin is quoted as saying he hoped Gil wins when he saw him at ceremony on TV.
It was really intense at the super over, I couldn't watch! I loved the feeling when I was on lords cricket ground with the other players. I can't believe 1 BILLION people were watching us on TV !!!!!😜😀😃😄😁🙃🤣😋😛😝😎😎
It was a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you Johan Olivia
Arthur - What an amazing day, 2 ties, super overs & lots of lost voices. Possibly the best game of cricket of all time and I was there. To add to that I got to walk out with Tom Curran in front of millions of people watching worldwide.
Never in a million years would I have dreamt I would do that but thanks to Johan and the team they created this opportunity of a life time. I won’t forget a moment, especially when we won.
It was the best final ever. My favourite part was the super over as it felt as if we were at a place when history was being made. I enjoyed walking in with the players and meeting them. It was an incredible day and experience. what a wonderful opportunity to walk along side world class players and be part of this incredible game!
An amazing once in a lifetime experience, what a win!
‘It was the best day of my life. When I walked out with Martin Guptill he asked me if I was a bowler or a batter & I said I prefer bowling. I still do. I still can’t believe I was on TV in front of 3 billion people. My favourite part was when Jos Buttler ran out Martin Guptill to win the World Cup! I still feel a bit sad for New Zealand.’
Now he wants to be playing cricket all day long, every day! ~ Thanks very much, Helen Roberts.
Dont forget cricket camp is available over the holidays … I'm sure a few super overs will be practiced and a few shots recreated.....