Surge in demand for cricket sparks new initiative

A former England cricketer has taken action after curriculum changes led to more interest in cricket in schools

Former England cricketer Lydia Greenway has developed a coaching initiative to help PE teachers deliver cricket lessons in schools.

Recent changes to the GCSE curriculum meant rounders, the original sport used to assess female pupils, was axed in favour of cricket.

Cricket for Girls aims to create ‘empowering sporting experiences’ for female pupils of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, and works with both independent and state schools.

Greenway, who represented England 225 times during a 13-year career, told IE why she created the initiative: “Traditionally, rounders has been the main striking and fielding sport which the GCSE curriculum has used to assess female pupils. It was decided that it was going to be taken off the curriculum to be replaced with cricket, which I think is a bit more challenging for the girls compared to rounders.

“This has brought a huge amount of interest to cricket from schools and PE teachers who haven’t necessarily been that exposed to cricket in the past are now suddenly being asked to deliver cricket in their lessons.”

Lydia Greenway is a former England cricketer and the head coach at Cricket for Girls

The coaches from Cricket for Girls visit schools and deliver cricket sessions on an eight-week programme. They can also run CPD courses, holiday camps, masterclasses and school sports awards. Most recently, they released an online resource for teachers that gives them access to lesson plans, video technical demonstrations, PDF resources and more.

Cricket for Girls, which launched at the start of 2017, already works with a huge number of independent schools, and hopes to work with more state schools going forward.

It works with seven of the Girls’ Day School Trust’s schools, with weekly coaching, and runs all of their CPD for cricket.

“Queenswood School were one of the first schools to come on board with us and have a regular coach, but we also run taster sessions and masterclasses for them. They link this with their prep schools as well,” said Greenway.

A holiday camp over Easter allowed Guildford High School to introduce the girls to cricket before it became a major part of their PE lessons when they returned for their summer term.

Greenway said: “Guildford High School recently hosted a holiday camp over Easter. Over four days we had nearly 100 girls attend. They are an example of a school that is completely shifting from rounders to cricket, so they wanted to give the girls the opportunity to have a taster of cricket before they got back to school for their summer term.”

My opinion is that PE should cater for the majority, rather than those few girls who really excel in sport

Greenway told IE why she is so passionate about getting girls feeling more confident about sport: “I read a study recently by the Youth Sport Trust that asked young girls the reason why they didn’t want to do PE lessons. I think over 50% of the respondents said it was to do with their confidence, they felt judged by their peers or they didn’t think they were very good. As I read it I thought, this is something that is within the control of PE teachers and coaches – we can ensure we create the right environment.

“My opinion is that PE should cater for the majority, rather than those few girls who really excel in sport. Generally, those girls will get the opportunity outside of school whereas for the majority of girls the only contact they have with physical activity is within their PE lessons. Encouraging success, making it enjoyable, giving everyone a role within a lesson and making them feel valued is all really important.

“I was one of the sporty ones at school but even I was quite self-conscious in front of my peers if I wasn’t sure I could do something. The environment we create is really important.”