Today sees the official opening of a brand-new state of the art indoor cricket facility – The Wilf Slack Cricket Centre, at William Perkin CofE High School in Greenford, Middlesex.
The facility, launched in partnership with the Twyford CofE Academies Trust and Middlesex Cricket, has taken seven years from inception to opening, and today celebrates a successful conclusion to the long journey as the facility officially opened its doors to the public.
It is named after the Middlesex cricketing great Wilf Slack, who tragically passed away in 1989 at the age of just 34, having played such an important role in one of Middlesex Cricket’s most successful trophy-winning decades on the field. The new facility boasts four indoor lanes, video technology and analysis, bowling machines, a coaching suite, gym facilities, and plenty more besides.
As a player Wilf had a passion for developing young cricketers and was a role model for many young black cricketers of his generation – the Wilf Slack Cricket Centre is a fitting tribute to this special man.
The centre aims to provide opportunities to members of the local community, local recreational clubs, local schools, Middlesex Cricket’s Women and Girls squads, Disability squads, and Middlesex’s Participation Team to benefit from the world-class facilities – providing an environment for the next generation of cricketers to develop and thrive in the game.
William Perkin places a high emphasis on sport. It is part of a Church of England Multi Academy Trust which encourages all students to recognise their gifts and use them for the good of others. All four Trust schools are committed to enriching the local community – with William Perkin focusing on the Greenford area. With over 54% of Greenford’s resident population coming from diverse communities, interest in cricket is especially high in both boys and girls and the new cricket centre will be central to the school’s aims to engage with these local communities.
The project was delivered thanks to funding from a number of key strategic partners, including the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Sport England, Middlesex Cricket, and the Wilf Slack Young Cricketers Development Trust, without whose invaluable support the opening of the cricket centre would not have been possible.
The project was steered by former William Perkin School Head Teacher, Keir Smith, now Head Teacher of Ada Lovelace CofE High School, another of the Twyford CofE Academies Trust schools within the London borough of Ealing. Speaking of the opening of the new facility, Smith said:
“The opening of the Wilf Slack Cricket Centre is a special moment for the communities it will serve. Cricket is England’s summer sport, and the community spirit, teamwork, togetherness, and friendships that the game can create should never be overlooked.
“As a state school, we are extremely proud to be able to offer a first-class cricket facility that rivals anything else in the area, even in the private school sector, and we want this centre to be a shining example of what can be done in state schools with the right vision and the right partners in place.
Our vision is for the centre to become a real community hub - a centre of excellence for the development of the next generation of cricketers, and in partnership with Middlesex Cricket, we look forward to the Wilf Slack Cricket Centre playing a leading role in this aim.
“Our most sincere thanks go to all the partners who made this project possible, not least of all Middlesex Cricket, who we are proud to open this centre in partnership with.”
Katie Berry, Middlesex Cricket’s Director of Participation, commented:
“I would like to thank Keir and all of the team at the Twyford CofE Academies Trust, for their wholehearted commitment to making this vision become a reality. Without the passion and dedication of the team behind this project we wouldn’t be here today.
“As a facility, the Wilf Slack Cricket Centre, stands head and shoulders above anything else in the county. The term state of the art was made for this facility and with the shared vision we have with the team at Twyford CofE Academies Trust, we know that this centre will become a vital hub for the local community.
“I am eternally grateful to all the partners who helped make this project possible – the ECB, Sport England, and the Wilf Slack Trust, who we are indebted to for this amazing facility.
“As well as driving additional benefits to the local community, Middlesex Cricket is extremely fortunate to be able to use the facility ourselves, and to be delivering our Participation programmes in such an inspiring venue, as well as using it as a training base for a number of our representative squads is amazing."