Before England’s match at Chelmsford last Wednesday evening a special ceremony took place, as three girls from the East London Girls club were presented with bats on behalf of the Cricket Society.
The bats – which are from Cricket Deal Direct’s Heather Knight Collection – are part of a wider three-year bursary scheme funded by the Cricket Society through Chance to Shine Street. The Society are using a legacy which was left to them by a former officer, Vivienne Hogarth, with the request that it be used to help talented but needy cricketers.
Chairman of the Cricket Society Nigel Hancock was at Chelmsford to witness the presentation, and explained that the Society had been keen to use the money to aid grassroots women’s cricket, and had chosen to act as a funder for Chance to Shine as a result.
The girls themselves were clearly thrilled with their new bats, which they personally chose, and with the opportunity to meet England players Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight before seeing them in action. 15-year-old Kiran, who has been playing cricket for two years, said:
“The bat feels amazing. It’s so good. My bat’s nothing like this!”
Kiran is just one of 400 girls annually who since 2011 have benefitted from the expansion of Chance to Shine’s Street scheme, which is now a national programme designed to provide opportunities to participate in cricket where the sport would not otherwise be accessible.
While cricket was not offered at her school, when Chance to Shine Street held an event at Wanstead School two years ago Kiran decided to go along, and fell in love with the game.
“Cricket’s not like any other sport,” she told CRICKETher. “Every ball you’re watching, and every ball is different. I would love to play for England one day!”
The East London Girls club is one of several girls-only schemes which Chance to Shine Street have introduced, and forms part of the general expansion of girls’ cricket in Essex in recent years, spearheaded by Essex Cricket Board’s Dave Letch. Several of the girls from East London now also play for Wanstead CC.
After the award, the girls stayed on to watch England Women beat Australia in spectacular fashion. It was certainly great to see them being inspired by the very player, Heather Knight, whose name and signature adorns their new bats.