2022 was a busy and rewarding year for Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and the Steelbacks in the Community team. With the introduction of new initiatives and the expansion of existing ones, 2022 was a signpost of the future for cricket across the county.
A record number of women’s games took place across Northamptonshire with the formation of a midweek league, the East Midlands Cricket League, Women’s Softball Festival and Girl’s Softball Festivals. A total of 147 games were played across 4 formats and 33 teams – the most ever in Northamptonshire, and that number is increasing.
These matches engaged nearly 1000 female players with many more also involved in various roles across clubs and leagues in the County. The number of girls participating in cricket in Northamptonshire has now risen by 64% since 2019.
The Steelbacks in the Community team bought cricket to 5,000 schoolchildren across more than 100 different schools in the County, introducing the game to new players and developing skills in existing young cricketers. As part of this work, nearly 100 teachers were given training to continue offering cricket sessions for their students independently.
2022 saw the launch of both the Luton Steelbacks CricketAcademy and Peterborough Steelbacks Cricket Academy. These programmes combine educational study with professional level cricket coaching, making a pathway into professional sport available to young cricketers who may not have the same opportunities otherwise. The inaugural Luton Steelbacks Cricket Academy squad have already had success in early fixtures with a new intake of players on the way for 2023.Not only providing a fantastic opportunity to young people in differing communities, but also demonstrating the reach of Steelbacks Cricket across the region.
Wantage Road played host to fixtures welcoming players and supporters from a wider range of backgrounds and cultures than ever before in 2022.
The sold out Steelbacks’ T20 showcase fixture against India saw an incredible atmosphere at The County Ground lead by supporters from around the region, many of whom hadn’t visited Wantage Road before. A range of local performers and food vendors made the day a festival of Indian culture with a great game of cricket to match.
The Steelbacks also welcomed Grenada in 50 over showcase fixture engaging with Northamptonshire’s thriving Afro-Caribbean community. As a backdrop to the cricket, supporters could take it elements of Grenadian culture with music, food, drink and entertainment from local businesses.
Northamptonshire also continued its progress in aiming to be a hub for accessible cricketers from across the country. The Wantage Road outfield welcomed pan-disability ECBD40 cricket and the BCEW Primary Club Heindrich Swanepoel Cup Final for visually impaired cricketers. The Steelbacks in the Community team ran nearly 200 Super 1s sessions across the county and provided table cricketsessions for 200 school children in 10 Northamptonshire schools.
The team at Northamptonshire Cricket and Steelbacks in the Community are proud of what has been achieved in 2022, reaching new people and expanding cricket across the county and beyond. Striving to make cricket a game for all.
Exciting plans are already in place to continue and expand differing programs throughout 2023 and into what is a bright future for cricket in the county.