Published: 4th February, 2020
Former Surrey and England fast bowler Alex Tudor is backing the Club’s new ACE Programme – a project designed to increase cricket’s engagement with African and Caribbean communities.
Tudor was a key part of the dominant Surrey team of the late 1990s and early 2000s, also regularly representing England. He now works as a cricket coach and summariser – and can soon be heard on Talksport commentating on England’s upcoming white-ball series against South Africa.
The programme will begin with open days at The Kia Oval on Wednesday March 4th and Wednesday March 11th. Please click here for more details and instructions on how to sign up to attend.
As well as his media work and coaching, Tudor will play a key part in the ACE Programme, attending sessions and helping to inspire the young people the scheme is hoping to bring into the game – and the Londoner is setting his sights high for what the programme can achieve.
“My vision for the ACE Programme is to hopefully unearth some talent, not only playing first-class cricket but one day donning the Three Lions on their chest and representing England”, he said last week. “What a thing that would be, that something starting off so small would get that big and they would say that they only came through cricket because of this programme.”
Having initially honed his skills through the London Schools’ Cricket Association, Tudor is aware of the need for schemes like the ACE Programme, as cricket competes for the attention of talented young athletes alongside a multitude of other sports, including football and rugby.
“Programmes like this are essential, they need to be done”, he continued. “There are other organisations doing great jobs, but this is one that I think will resonate with myself and Mark (Butcher) and Ebony. If we can unearth some first-class cricketers then would be absolutely fantastic.”
Rainford-Brent has talked about the influence of cricketers such as Tudor and Mark Butcher on her passage through the Surrey ranks and the trio have remained good friends as they all carve out successful careers in retirement.
“[Ebony] spoke to me and said, ‘Look Tudes, do you mind getting involved?’ and straightaway I said, ‘Yes, what do you need me to do?’”, continued Tudor.
“I am of Caribbean descent – my parents are from Barbados – but I was born here in England.
“I’ve been involved at The Oval since I was a young boy. My upbringing was through the London Schools’ Cricket Association and I was lucky enough to go down to The Oval, where my brother was in the setup as a young cricketer. He got a contract in 1992 and I remember John Major giving to him at a dinner!
“Everyone always asks me, ‘Where are all the kids of West Indian descent, where have they all gone?’ and I reply that I don’t know. These days, I’ve never seen so many black kids, especially boys, playing rugby. That’s what’s happening and we have to understand that and find out why they’re turning away from cricket and going into other sports.
“What Ebony’s getting to do is, going into the community, source the talent and give them opportunity to mix with people who have come from the background that they have – but also people that have got to the top like Mark Butcher and myself.
“I’m excited get involved, get going and to see talent. You can’t tell me for one minute that there’s not that talent pool in the city, especially in London – boys and girls.”