Batting legend Graham Gooch launches ECB’s first urban cricket centre
Youngsters in Waltham Forest inspired by England’s success at this summer’s Cricket World Cup can now access top-class facilities on their doorstep.
Leyton Cricket Hub, based at the County Ground in Leyton High Road, features indoor batting wickets and nets to provide space to practise all year round – whatever the weather.
The £1.7million facility has been created in just six months by refurbishing an old sports hall and follows a partnership between England Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Waltham Forest Council and Essex County Cricket Club, which called the ground in Leyton home up until the late 1970s.
Leyton Cricket Hub was officially opened at the end of June by England and Essex batting legend Graham Gooch, who even gave a batting demonstration. He said: “When I was a youngster my father Alf used to bring me to this ground to watch Essex in the 60s and 70s. I spent my youth here.
“The new facility is brilliant and will be fantastic for the local community. It will give people a better chance to be successful.”
England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, a star of the Cricket World Cup, added: “This is an exciting facility that will help grow the game among the South Asian community here. It’s important that people have places to play in inner-cities and this is a great example of how the sport can bring people together in the local area.”
The facility will provide “accessible and affordable” cricket for residents and is aimed in particular at the local area’s large south Asian communities, forming a key part of ECB’s ‘South Asian Action Plan’ launched last year. It will also be used to encourage women and girls to take up the sport.
Shruti Saujani is leading a South Asian female volunteering programme for ECB. She said: “This has the potential to make a massive difference to cricket in this country. We are already seeing some incredible stories of South Asian women across the country taking up the game and becoming role models for the next generation.”
Waltham Forest’s proud cricketing pedigree also includes being home to the famous Dukes cricket ball – used in all England’s home test matches – which is manufactured by British Cricket Balls in Shernall Street, Walthamstow Village.