Huge growth in new members in the junior ranks
Pupils from St John's Walham Green school play cricket at the club. Picture: Shepherd's Bush Cricket Club
Shepherd's Bush Cricket Club (SBCC) is reporting a huge surge of interest in participation by girls and women as it prepares to celebrate its 140th anniversary.
Tim Howard, who runs junior cricket at the club, says he astonished by the boom in the girls' and women's' game, and is convinced that it's set to be the next big thing.
“We've been paying a particular focus to the girls,” he said. “This season we've taken on 50 girls who have been registered with the club. It's been a big aspect of life at the club in the last 12 to 16 months.”
It means that SBCC has been running competitive matches for girls at U11 and U15 levels and putting more time and energy into coaching and improving the women's game.
SBCC began encouraging girls' cricket two years ago, but the big boom has followed the huge rise in televised women's cricket. “The TV exposure is undoubtedly making the girls' game bigger and bigger,” said Tim.
“But the other factor around here is west London schools taking rounders out and replacing that with cricket. It's led to demand for girls' cricket.”
Two of Middlesex Women's first-team wicketkeepers, Iqraa Hussain, 22, and Amelie Munday, 19, recently visited the Shepherd's Bush club during a training meeting for the girls, to pass on tips, hold a question-and-answer session and share their enthusiasm for this fast-growing sector of sport.
Middlesex Women's first-team wicketkeepers Iqraa Hussain (left) and Amelie Munday (right)
The demand is being fuelled at grassroots level in local primary schools with rapid progression from a softball form of cricket to hardball.
“It's made a natural pathway for girls to go from softball to hardball... much like for the boys,” added Tim.
“This is the first year back, after Covid, for the Hammersmith & Fulham primary schools' cricket competition, and the difference from, say, five years is so great.”
SBCC runs the Hammersmith & Fulham primary cricket event, and its club coaches go into a number of local primaries to encourage participation.
The club also has a serious women's team, which is growing its own support base, so there's a development path in the girls' game, just as there has always been from boys' cricket into the men's senior teams.
Although the junior season has now finished (it ends when schools break up for the summer), plans are already being made for enlisting new recruits ahead of next year's start in early April.
In boys' cricket SBCC runs matches at U9, U10, U11, U12, U13 and U15 levels. In the men's game there are four teams playing each week.
SBCC is pretty much at full capacity currently with boys' cricket, but it believes it's the girls' and women's game that has the real potential to soar in coming years.
The club was set up in 1882, has more than 250 juniors playing regularly, and says it can offer a friendly, family atmosphere and thriving social side at the ground at 38 Bromyard Ave, W3 7BP.
The club is marking its 140th anniversary with a gala end-of-season dinner on Saturday 15 October, and is keen to welcome back notable players of the past. Keep an eye on the club's Twitter account for details.
Meanwhile, if you're a young cricketer, keen to improve your skills, the SBCC runs summer cricket camps for boys and girls aged five to 13, throughout August. The cost is £30 per day (10.30am-3pm). Book by emailing Tim Howard on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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August 1, 2022