Former England cricketers Knight, Edwards and Trott at Culford School to teach masterclasses
New Culford School cricket ambassador Nick Knight hopes to have already sparked a small fire of passion in some of the pupils, after former England players Charlotte Edwards and Jonathan Trott were drafted in.
The Sky Sports commentator took no time in getting stuck into his new role at the school, with more than 150 pupils involved in two masterclass events – one for boys and one for girls – held last week.
And Edwards, who is the first player either male or female to score 2,500 runs in Twenty20 internationals, said it could not have come at a better time to nurture a love of the game, particularly among girls, with England currently hosting the Cricket World Cup, which got under way yesterday.
She said: “I think we have an enormous opportunity this summer with the World Cup and two Ashes series – men’s and women’s – to sell the game.
“And I think there’s no better time to be in cricket, particularly for the girls as the game is growing rapidly. To see so many girls out there now just puts a big smile on my face because 20 years ago, this just wouldn’t have happened.
“Many schools are embracing women’s cricket and it certainly makes me very proud. I think the game has become more visible in the last five years or so and it’s now a real career option for a young girl, which it wasn’t when I started playing.
“I think there are so many opportunities in the game for everyone now. When I was growing up, Nick Knight was my role model.
“Nick lived just down the road from me so he was very accessible and I guess I saw him as local to me.
“So playing for England was a real option because he came from the same village as me or close by.
“He’ll hate me saying this, but he was a real inspiration for me. His picture was on the back of my bedroom wall.
“But now young girls have female cricketers, potentially even me, as their role model which I think shows how far women’s cricket has come.”
The masterclasses saw Trott – a four-time Ashes winner with England – and Edwards put the budding cricketers through their paces, developing various aspects of their game, from batting to bowling.
Knight said: “Clearly cricket, for both boys and girls, is a developing sport but specifically the girls.
“There’s a lot of talent, a lot of ability and, along with the coaching staff, my role is to try to add a bit of expertise.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to enjoy the game over a long period of time – Charlotte will probably say the same – and so we feel a little indebted to the game as well.
“Anything that we can give back, to help the kids enjoy the game, we want them to get out of class and come to enjoy the sunshine, that can only be a good thing.
“If we can get the kids enjoying cricket, then the rest will follow.
“Charlotte and Jonathan are friends of mine and so I called them up and asked if they could help out for a day.
“You look around at this group of girls and they’re here because of Charlotte, they’re here because they want to learn from the very, very best player that’s played the women’s game.
“It’s an opportunity for them to have an experience they’ll never ever forget.
“If there’s anything I can do, like this, and hopefully other things further down the line, just to add that little bit of expertise, then we will absolutely be doing it.”
Knight added that he has a particular affinity to the school with his children involved in the tennis set-up, adding that his father once went to the school.
l Meanwhile, Trott is set to return to Suffolk after being revealed as a member of the PCA England Masters T20 squad to face Woolpit on August 26.
The event, to be sponsored by Greene King, will see Trott joined by Dean Headley, Devon Malcolm, Mark Ramprakash and captain for the day Alex Tudor.