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Middlesex In the Community (MITC) capped a remarkable week of cricket at Broadwater Farm Estate in north London, with legendary England fast bowler Devon Malcolm meeting the students of Willow Primary School and teaching them a trick or two about fast bowling.

The occasion was a fitting end to a four-day Easter programme, which saw over 25 young people show a keen appetite for cricket: “It’s always good to see young boys and girls take their first steps in the game. Cricket is all about having fun, making new friends and learning some skills along the way. Really encouraging to see children play cricket in these parts.”, said the former pacer who moved to England from Jamaica aged 16 in 1979.

Cricket was once the heartbeat of this largely afro Caribbean neighbourhood during the glory days of the West Indies, where the sound of calypso beats and reggae music, the delicious smell of jerk chicken filled the air, whose wicket was once described as the ‘best cricket pitch in north London’. However, in recent times football has taken over the imagination of young people on the estate that sits just over a mile from the mega Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium.

“It’s so good to see our students pick up a bat and ball for a change and learn some new skills under Middlesex Cricket’s coaches and also meeting a cricketing icon. They’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing cricket this week, and we are keen to provide our students more such opportunities”, said Dawn Ferdinand, Head Teacher of The Willow Primary School

Signed cricket bats and balls were given to the young boys and girls who participated all week, with parents and teachers waiting patiently for selfies with Devon and his former England colleague Angus Fraser.

“This is what cricket is all about and what we want to do as Middlesex In the Community, bringing over the likes of Devon to inspire young people. You can see these kids have picked up some serious batting and bowling skills in just a week. The Willow at Broadwater’s, its teachers have been brilliant, along with Haringey Council’s support, we can achieve more such positives in such areas”, said Fraser.

Following the cricket at the school, MITC Managing Director Fraser then hosted a Q&A with Malcolm at the nearby Broadwater Farm Community Centre alongside local legend Clasford Stirling, to discuss the health of the game on the estate. Clasford said, “Cricket was everything once upon a time in Broadwater Farm. A simple game of ‘catch’ can develop cricket skills and improve hand-eye coordination. We need to introduce more cricket in the local schools, to make it a regular feature once again.”

Reminiscing about the days when they were peak fast bowlers, Devon and Angus who famously led England to its first win against the West Indies in 16 years in 1990, said “In our days there were several barriers to playing cricket seriously. I had to borrow cricket kit and shoes to play local league games. These days with ACE making a crucial impact, with provisions for bursaries and equipment, we need to encourage more young people to play the game”, said Malcolm. The veteran of 40 tests for England didn’t let his former teammate go, without mentioning that it was Fraser that he replaced for the 3rd test against South Africa in 1994, to deliver one of the greatest ever bowling performances in the game, his 9 for 57 at The Oval, drawing cheers from the audience at the event.

The people in the audience had several interesting questions for the former legends, with some pointing to the decline in popularity of cricket here, “You can’t be what you can’t see. We need to use the power of social media to engage young people into cricket”, said Subomi Odanye of Divrse Media.

With the recent announcement of investment in the game by the Government, and Middlesex In The Community’s efforts to increase participation in areas such as Broadwater Farm, this could be a turning point towards producing a future Jofra Archer or Cordelia Griffith from these parts of north London, something that will surely inspire generations to come.

Watch this video featuring MITC's cricket session and both Angus Fraser and Devon Malcolm's visit to Broadwater Farm Estate...

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