As the weather warms up and the cricket summer is well and truly upon us, the interest in Surrey Cricket Foundation’s (SCF) walking cricket programme is budding, with groups of older people getting a chance to get back to cricket or develop a liking for the game for the very first time.
With support from Sport England’s Together Fund, accessed via Active Surrey, as well as sponsors Coaching Centred Leadership, the Foundation has opened four new walking cricket clubs this season, meaning there are now seven clubs operating across the county.
The newly-started clubs at Old Woking, Valley End, Merstham and Wimbledon will join the founder clubs – Cobham, Epsom and Pirbright – in competing for the Coaching Centred Leadership County Walking Cricket Cup this summer.
Walking cricket is a slow-paced activity that provides opportunities for social and physical development to people over the age of 50. This version of cricket is a great way for older people to exercise outdoors, discover new friendships, form a community as well as get a chance to re-live their cricketing dreams or be introduced to the sport for the first time.
75-year-old Vinod ‘Vinny’ Sharma, captain of Epsom Thoroughbreds, said: “Walking cricket is almost like a spiritual experience… stepping over the boundary rope and knowing you’re not going to be just a passive spectator, but actually a player, brings sheer joy to your soul.
“To re-live the things you used to do 30-odd years ago, it gives you a real buzz… you are amongst friends and it’s really uplifting. Psychologically, you can’t beat it. It’s absolutely wonderful.”
85-year-old Patrick Straker from Pirbright, told: “Walking cricket gives you a purpose in life and you try and remember the things you were good at in the old days, but it’s not really that that’s important. The important thing is you are contributing. You’re creating a whole new reason in your life.
“It’s a great time to meet friends, to do a bit of exercise, which at my age is very good, and also to enjoy really good coffee at the end of the game.”
Simon Hards, Assistant Director of Cricket Participation at SCF, said: “Walking cricket is another great example of an inclusive programme that can have a positive impact on the lives of many older people who may lack the opportunity for regular physical activity or social interactions.
“We are extremely grateful to Coaching Centred Leadership and Active Surrey whose funds have enabled us to create these new clubs in 2023. The funding is enabling the clubs to access the equipment and activators to run the sessions and provide marketing support to help promote the sessions.
“The early signs are very encouraging in terms of the numbers signed up. We are looking forward to supporting our new clubs across the county as we seek to grow this inclusive format of the game.’
The clubs are eager for new participants, and if you wish to know more or are interested in getting involved, please complete an expression of interest here.