Former Test bowler Matthew Hoggard returned to his home town yesterday (Jun 21) to encourage children to try their hand at the sport.
The 44-year-old, who began his career at Yorkshire and went on to take 248 Test wickets, invited children to share his passion for the sport when he took charge of a PE session at Stanningley Primary School in Pudsey at the beginning of National Cricket Week. He was joined by Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell.
Hoggard was working alongside coaches from the charity Chance to Shine, which offers children from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to play and enjoy cricket.
“We’re getting down to the grassroots and we’re getting back and giving back to cricket,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“You need kids to enjoy sport, get off their backsides, get off the PlayStation, get out of their rooms, enjoy each other’s company – especially after Covid – learn how to mingle with each other and learn how to communicate.
“The fantastic thing about cricket is it brings together all genders and nationalities and religions and everybody can talk the same language while having some great fun. I’m a massive believer that everybody should try everything and you don’t know if you like it or you don’t like it until you try it.”
Hoggard grew up in the town, attended Pudsey Grangefield School, and fell in love with cricket at Pudsey Congs Cricket Club.
He said he still plays cricket for fun, at his local club in Barkby, Leicestershire, and takes “massive pride” in knowing that he has inspired youngsters to take up the sport.
He added: “One of the proudest moments you get is when 20-year-olds come up and say ‘you’re the reason we started cricket because obviously you were involved in the 2005 Ashes’. Everybody wants to leave a legacy.”
The former seam bowler, who also played for Leicestershire before he retired in 2013, has been an ambassador for Chance to Shine since 2005 and has seen the charity help more than five million children get involved in cricket.
The scheme focuses on working with boys and girls in inner city areas who do not have access to facilities or equipment.
Other well-known players will be encouraging children during National Cricket Week, which is sponsored by Yorkshire Tea.
West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite is taking part in a street event in Birmingham today. England Learning Disability captain Chris Edwards and North West Thunder’s Georgie Boyce will visit a special needs school tomorrow and Australian international Marnus Labuschagne will run a coaching session at a Cardiff school on Thursday.
England bowler Chris Jordan will then be put through his paces by children during a virtual Q&A session on Friday.
Yorkshire Tea, which has been involved with National Cricket Week since 2014, is also working with the charity Cricket Builds Hope to support the game in Rwanda.