Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cricket 'School' Is First Class and Must Not Lose Chance to Shine

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cricket 'School' Is First Class and Must Not Lose Chance to Shine

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

JACK RUSSELL is teaching an art class. The moustachioed former England wicketkeeper is at the front of a bright schoolroom in Johanna Primary School, near Waterloo. His year six students are designing a cricket bat. So far their suggestions for a logo have been as eccentric as Russell himself: a great white shark, a bald eagle and, er, a dancing banana.

Some of the kids ask Russell about his career. "Were you a batter or a 'wicketer'?" asks one. "How old are you?" asks another. "Why don't you play with Chris Tremlett?" asks a third. Russell (below) answers them all in good humour.

Tremlett, as it happens, is out in the playground, teaching PE. At 6ft 7ins England's pre-eminent fast bowler looms like a latter-day Lemuel Gulliver, while his year-five class batter tennis balls across the tarmac. In fact, all over Johanna Primary, there are former cricketers and eminent cricket fans, sharing their love for the game with every boy and girl in the school.

Assembly was led by Hugh Robertson MP, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics and a keen cricketer. Maths is being taken by Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England. The cricket broadcaster Mark Nicholas is taking English; Daybreak's weather presenter Lucy Versamy is in charge of geography.

And a cheery parp drifts down the corridors, courtesy of today's music teacher: the Barmy Army trumpeter, Billy 'The Trumpet' Cooper.

Johanna Primary is the showcase school for Brit Insurance National Cricket Day, an event run by Chance to Shine, a charity bringing cricket into state schools -- training teachers to coach cricket, and linking pupils with local clubs. Since 2005 it has involved 4,000 schools and more than a million boys and girls in the game. And as I spend the morning watching a school totally taken over by cricket, I am hugely impressed by the enthusiasm Chance to Shine has instilled in these south London schoolchildren.

At break-time I chat with Tremlett. "Introducing more cricket to state schools is great," he says. "I played a bit of cricket at school, but it wasn't really available -- whereas we had three football teams.

"Cricket can go a bit unnoticed. …

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