Walking Cricket League launches in Yorkshire
Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF) – the official charity arm of Yorkshire County Cricket Club – has launched a new Walking Cricket league in Yorkshire in partnership with u3a.
The opening match of the season saw a Rotherham u3a side narrowly beat South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster u3a in an entertaining match at Parkgate Astro, on Thursday, 19 May.
Doncaster, who were established in April last year, won the toss and elected for Rotherham to bat first.
Pictured, the Rotherham Walking Cricket team.
Rotherham, playing in green, posted a spirited total of 133 off 16 overs.
After the break a determined Doncaster, playing in red came out fighting, but narrowly missed out with a final score of 123.
Rotherham player Lesley White, 72, said: “It was a bit tense… and a very close game. We did our best, gave it our best shot with everyone enjoying it.”
Sheel Pounj, 77, playing for Doncaster added: “I really enjoyed it, the weather was nice so – we only lost narrowly but even in defeat it was great fun.”
I really enjoyed it, the weather was nice so – we only lost narrowly but even in defeat it was great fun – Sheel Pounj, 77, a Doncaster Walking Cricket player
The Walking Cricket League in Yorkshire will see five teams – Barnsley u3a, Doncaster u3a, Huddersfield Hurricanes (independent), Rotherham u3a and Wakefield u3a – competing against one another for a spot at finals day on Tuesday, 20 September.
Each Walking Cricket team comprises eight players, including a minimum of two women players (with a sub), where players bat in pairs with games are played on astro-turf, over 16 overs.
The launch of the new league is thanks to Walking Cricket champion Mac McKechnie, 72, the founder of the first Walking Cricket side in Yorkshire – the Barnsley u3a Walking Cricket team, who has been at the heart of increasing the impact of the transformational sport across the county.
Pictured, Mac McKechnie, the founder of the first Walking Cricket side in Yorkshire
Mac, who is currently retraining as an umpire thanks to support from YCF and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and helped umpire the first game of the season, has also been aided by a team of volunteers who will help administer the league.
Mac said: “This first match, it’s a mile-stone really and it’s been a hard fought game and both teams were a credit to what they’ve learnt over the last three to four years and I’m so pleased it went the full distance and everyone seemed very happy about it.”
He added: “To go full circle now and retrain with the ECB as an umpire shows that even at 72 you can start a new career can’t you!”
Kendal James, Participation Manager for YCF, said: “It’s brilliant, it’s that next progression in terms of where we started to where we are now.
“We’ve been able to create this league to be able to accommodate those that are a little bit more competitive and to be able to have that camaraderie and little bit of rivalry between the towns and cities.”
Kendal James, Participation Manager for YCF (right), alongside Eric, a 94-year-old Walking Cricket participant
Walking Cricket was developed as a new concept in 2019 by YCF and u3a – an organisation to support older people.
The activity is an adaptation of the traditional game of cricket to suit those with less mobility and caters for different abilities. Just as important as the cricket itself is the social element, with tea, coffee and biscuits provided and the opportunity for catch-up after the sessions.
There are a number of health benefits to Walking Cricket including aiding mobility and increasing health and wellbeing – including those living with mental health conditions.
While the launch of the Walking Cricket league in Yorkshire supports those who enjoy a competitive element to the game – the activity has been designed to cater for all.
Weekly social sessions currently take place across 12 hubs in the region designed for absolute beginners right through to ex-cricketers and there is also a Yorkshire representative team – with the hope to play country matches in the future and green field Walking Cricket (played on a field).
Kendal said: “This is truly a sport for all, because we engage new participants, with zero experience right through to ex-cricketers.
“We’re incredibly excited with this launch in Rotherham and I would like to encourage members of the community in the city to come and give it a go and we are welcome to all.”
Joy Belk, 68, a Walking Cricketer from Doncaster, who had never played cricket before taking up the sport in 2019, said: “ I’ve enjoyed it so much. I like it when I get the bat in my hand and hit the ball – that’s the best bit for me.
“Nearly as many women play as there are men in the Doncaster side which is brilliant.
“I would say to anyone come and try it! It’s good fun and everyone can join in and is supported right from the first session.”
For the future a long-term aim for YCF is to see Walking Cricket become ‘socially prescribed’ by the NHS across the county.
This would see the activity recommended and signposted to patients, visiting their local GPs, to help improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare.
How to get involved in Walking Cricket
If you are interested in finding out more about Walking Cricket groups near you, please visit: bit.ly/WalkingCricket