Festival programme introduced for youngest age group

MORE than 50 young cricketers aged nine and under enjoyed a great day in the sunshine as Chagford hosted the first ever South Devon Youth Cricket League Under-Nines festival.

The league, sponsored by Wollen Michelmore solicitors, have introduced a rolling program of Kwik cricket festivals in 2016 in response to growing demand from member clubs for more cricket opportunities for young players.

Festivals will take place at various clubs around south Devon until late July, with an emphasis on participation and skill development for all.

Eight teams from four different clubs took part. Ipplepen CC were best represented with three teams while Shaldon Optimists and Chagford both entered two. Abbotskerswell were the fourth participant club with one team.

Each team played three games of 12-overs-per side.

League chairman Chris Partridge said the overall standard of play was extremely high throughout.

Partridge added: 'It was brilliant to see so many young players having their first taste of club cricket and the facilities provided by Chagford CC - who volunteered to host this inaugural tournament - were first class.

'It was very noticeable how the overall quality of play improved with each round of matches and the children all played the games in a friendly spirit, well supported by their parents and team coaches.'

The Devon Cricket Board is currently launching an initiative aimed at increasing participation in the sport amongst children aged 6-9. Many clubs in South Devon are already ahead of the game in this respect.

At the same time as the festival was taking place, the South Devon Under 10 district team produced an amazing performance to defeat their West Devon counterparts by 316 runs.

The three main performers with the bat for South Devon in that game - Morgan Couch (101no); George Tapley (71no) and Harry Mount (46) - have all grown up at clubs which have offered coaching to players from the age of 6 for several seasons.

Couch (Shaldon Optimists); Tapley (Ipplepen) and Mount (Chagford) are just three lads to roll off the production lines at their respective clubs.

'Based on the evidence of the first under-nines festival, there will be plenty more to follow in their footsteps in the near future,' said Partridge.