Common health games

August 25, 1995

"You can call the academy we are planning elitist if you want, but that doesn't worry me. I don't think there is anything wrong with being very good.

"The point of the academy is that at 18 there are boys who have to decide either to abandon their education and go into first-class cricket or continue their education and take the risk that after three years they'll still be good enough to play cricket. Often what happens is their cricketing career stands still at university or even deteriorates: all they're doing is playing, but they need to develop, especially through the ages 18 to 21. It's our aim to run this academy so that when students have finished their education, they'll have a good degree from Durham and will suffer fewer re-entry problems back in the first-class game.

"The other side of the academy is that during their three years at Durham, students will be taking National Cricket Association coaching awards. This means that when they've got their degree, should they decide not to go into first-class cricket, they will be equipped with coaching qualifications.

"In my view, that is encouraging mass participation. If a graduate goes and plays for Accrington Cricket Club -where I used to play - and starts looking after the under-15s and he's doing a good job, what you find is a cascade effect. Two lads bring their mate along, and he brings his mate along, and all of a sudden you've gone from 12 youngsters to 35 and you're running another team. So if the academy will help the first-class game, it will also help at grassroots level.

"There's only one indoor net at Durham. Hopefully, the academy will upgrade that to four nets with decent run-ups. Those nets will be available for average cricketers when time allows. So although there is initially an elite group, we are creating facilities for everyone.

"The academy's first year will be 1996. Cricket is the pilot scheme, and the university is also looking to ones for rowing, hockey and possibly rugby In the future, these will be offering a better package for students and the local community. The better facilities you've got, the more people use them."

Graeme Fowler, Durham graduate, former Lancashire and England cricketer, is setting up a cricketing "academy of excellence" at his Alma Mater (which has produced five England Test cricketers)

Interviews by John Davies.

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