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Monday, 04 August 2014
Children taking part in this year’s Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy at Bolton School were in for a treat on their very first day. The boys spent the morning having their skills assessed before being divided into ability groups, and in the afternoon professional cricketer Darren Maddy joined them in the nets!
Darren played for Leicestershire for seventeen years before moving to Warwickshire, and only recently retired after seven years in the team. It was great for the children to meet a star of the cricket world to inspire them at the start of their week working with the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy.
Darren watched the boys practise their batting and bowling skills in the nets and offered his advice on both aspects of the game. He even joined in, giving each boy a chance to bowl to him – with one boy even managing to knock down the wicket!
Afterwards, the coaches led a question and answer session with Darren, and the boys asked a variety of interesting questions about his career, training, and experiences as a professional cricketer. He explained that he first began to play cricket for the Leicestershire Schools U18s teams at eight or nine years old. He reminded the boys that there were no Academies when he was growing up, so it was harder to get into playing the game. He talked about progressing from there to the professional Leicestershire team aged just seventeen, and his more recent move to Warwickshire before retiring. In the course of the questions, he expanded on the proud moments when he joined the England team in 1998 and 1999, as well as when he played in the T20 World Cup.
“I used to love facing fast bowlers when I was younger to see how I could do against them,” he said. “However, as I got older and my reaction time wasn’t as good, it was my bowling skills that kept me on the team. So if I had to give you one piece of advice, it would be to keep practising all of your skills – your batting, your bowling, and your fielding. You never know when those other skills might keep you on the team.”
When asked about personal best test results, Darren admitted that they hadn’t been the best, and that sometimes when playing for Leicestershire and Warwickshire he had been out with no score – but used these negative experiences to reassure the boys that it is not the end of the world if this happens to them. He reminded them, “I’ve always been a team player, and it’s all about team success.”
This was a fantastic start to the children’s experience of the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy, and will surely inspire them to work hard to improve their skills for the rest of the week. They will spend the remaining four days of the Academy focusing on the different aspects of the game. There will be sessions on batting, bowling, fielding, and some discussion of strategy as well. The boys will have opportunities to use the nets as well as playing lots of matches to further test and improve their skills.
This year’s coaching team is of outstanding quality: several coaches are also professional cricketers, who have previously played internationally in the Holland, Pakistan and West Indies teams.
Rupes Kitzinger the Managing Director of Active Sport, which organises the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy, said, “We are delighted to be working with BSS Leisure Services at Bolton School again. The facilities and environment are excellent, as is the sporting pedigree in the area. Bolton School is the perfect place for our academies to help inspire future cricket stars.”
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