Interest in cricket amongst youngsters in Worcestershire is booming thanks to the All Stars Cricket programme.

More than 600 children aged between five and eight have signed up already to the 2018 programme – an increase of 20 per cent on last year’s figures.

Thirty eight centres across the County will be participating in the eight week All Stars Cricket programme which gets underway on May 11.

The aim is to attract as many new children and families to cricket as possible – and it is encouraging that 30 per cent of those signed up in Worcestershire for All Stars Cricket in 2018 are girls.

For £40 those taking part receive their own personalised kit including a T-shirt, bat, ball, cap, All Stars Cricket activity book and a backpack PLUS eight one-hour coaching sessions during the next two months.

Worcestershire Cricket Board cricket development director, Tom Hill, said: “I’m delighted to say we’ve had 600 kids sign up to the All Stars Cricket programme already this year.

“This is already 120 more than in 2017 and there are still more than two weeks to go this year’s programme gets underway.

“One of our hubs in Droitwich is the second biggest nationally. They’ve had over 100 kids signed up.

“To have so many new kids by this time is fantastic, given the snow and the poor weather and people not really thinking about cricket until now.

“That is credit to the team of coaches that are going out doing ‘taster’ sessions and introducing kids to the game.

“For example, at a ‘taster’ session at Webbs Garden Centre, more than 100 kids turned up who were all new to cricket which is brilliant.

“Clubs are starting to do a really good job with promoting All Stars, and grants have been distributed earlier in the year to help make their facilities more family friendly.

“We’ve got 38 centres across Worcestershire this year, again an increase of 15 centres compared to last year.”

Hill added: “We are trying to attract as many new kids and families to cricket as possible – boys and girls and provide them with an outstanding first experience of the game.

“I think we have got a programme that will challenge football and other sports in terms of the quality it has to offer – the kit, the quality of the activities and the opportunities for parents to get involved in their children’s sessions.

“We’re aspiring to make this the best hour of the week for young families.

“Through this programme, we’re aiming to inspire a generation to choose cricket. To take on football and become the sport of choice for young families. All of which we feel is achievable.

“About 30 per cent of the kids which have signed up this year are girls which is brilliant. We’ve got hubs across the county which are really driving women’s-girls cricket.

“I can guarantee this will be the best hour of the week that parents will spend with their kids across the summer.

“There is nothing better when you turn up at a club and all the kids are running up in their same kit with their bats and looking at the excitement they have.

“We are encouraging parents to be involved in the warm-ups. It really is about that shared experienced. People have busy lives but this is that one hour where you can spend some real quality time with your five to eight-year-old.”

Hill paid tribute to the Worcestershire Cricket Board Staff who have played a major role in the success of the All Stars Cricket scheme in the County in 2018.

He said: “Craig Oakley (club development manager), Sam Wyles (youth participation officer), Jim Hanson (marketing and communications), Chathura Pinnawala (media), Dan Such (cricket development coach) and Emily Arlott (cricket development coach) have all done a brilliant job in ensuring the scheme is a success.”

Anyone wanting to sign up to their local All Stars Cricket centre can register at allstarscricket.co.uk