Cyprus school programme growing stronger explains ICC's Chris Porter

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 5:12 PM

ICC Regional Development Officer, Chris Porter, embarked on his first country visit to Cyprus, here he shares what he encountered.

Day 1
Port’s needs his sleep
After a 4 hour flight to Cyprus I was looking forward to a good night sleep (as always) ready for my first day in Cyprus. Day started well with positive visits to the Heritage Private School with Muhammad Husain (Chairman of Cyprus Cricket) to meet Gary Butcher, Head Teacher Junior School and Dr Kypros Kouris, Head Teacher Senior School.

The meeting was very positive and focused on the importance of the partnership that has been in place for three years focusing on education and support to teachers that Cyprus Cricket could offer. The partnership also allows Cricket Cyprus to deliver out of school activity during the holidays. The School is currently developing a full size football pitch a 3rd Generation Astro Surface and Cyprus Cricket is planning to use a Notts Sports Powerplay Instant Cricket System. This facility will have a positive impact on Participation, Performance and the School / National Governing Body partnership.

Day 2
Coaching a Global Game and Ice Cream & Coffee for ‘Mr Christopher’
Early start today (8.00am!). Graham Cooper, ICC Umpire and Scorers Consultant and I were both taken to the Heritage School for a full days worth of cricket development (Coaching and Scorers Education). Graham had a Scorers Course to deliver at 10.30am and I was involved with the Saturday morning Cyprus Cricket youth programme. Five coaches arrived at 8.30 ready to deliver a fun and active cricket programme. Phil Bell and Muhammad Husain led the training sessions, 26 Children (aged between 5-12) attended the session; the different nationalities was fantastic. We had children from India, Cyprus, UK, Russia and Main Land Europe, goes to show that Cricket is truly a global game.

All the children called me Mr Christopher (felt like a School Teacher). The children really enjoyed the training sessions which included catching, agility speed games and batting. The session took me back in time about 10 years (Community Coach Days) and the feeling of developing young cricketers was a welcome experience. One young lad asked if I was coming back next week (travelling from the UK to Cyprus for 1 ½ session maybe too much to ask!).

The youth programme has got so much potential and the involvement of the parents will be essential to develop the game. The morning was great experience and really showed the power and potential of cricket in Cyprus. After training we went to view three cricket grounds which was very impressive, again it was great to see the amount of facilities available for people to play cricket in Cyprus.

Day 3
Start of the Cyprus Emerging Players Programme – Blue Skies and Hard Work
The day started with introductions and welcome to Steven Snell, ECB Level 4 Coach. The first main session was fielding and the players started with close interception drills (left and right hand). The work ethic was very good and all players applied themselves to the training session. We progressed to over arm throwing –the throws began to be more powerful – flatter and more accurate, players got a real ‘buzz’ about how much they were improving over a short space of time.

The 2nd session was ‘nets’ a long 1 ½ session for all the players to have a good bowl and also a bat. Good for Steven and I to understand their skill levels. Lunch followed the net session however we had a quick fun game of catching. Steven and I lost the game and were required to do 25 press ups (I think we will remember that!).

After lunch the players started to look at batting and focused on the ‘straight drive’. The session progressed from hitting balls of a ‘tee’ to drop feeds and then ‘bobble’ feeds. All players improved their skills levels and it was to see their focus and efforts bring good outcomes. The day finished off with a game which combined all three skills developed during the day (Straight Drive, short and mid range fielding).

Day 4
Player Centred and Warm Weather
The day started with a light warm-up and stretches for the players and coaches. The session was catching. Players were quick to pick up the importance of having a big catching area and soon their skills were put to the test with progressive catching drills. Players started with tennis balls, then ‘supa’ balls and finished with cricket balls. During the session the players developed their close catching skills, high catching skills and then applied the skill to a game situation. The game situation has been a great success the players responded well to the game environment.

After a 20 min break the players and coaches moved on to bowling and focused on developing a safe, strong and repeatable action. Players worked in small groups and developed specific parts of their bowling (front arm, alignment at the target were the main areas for development). We developed the bowling session and applied the drills to a middle practice environment. The session was a great success. We focused on the basic principles of bowling however we were also able to develop each player on an individual basis. Player soon developed their bowling action and good outcomes started to develop. The local press photographer arrived to take photos of the players training.

The last session was on batting ‘Pull Shot’ again the application and focus of the players was fantastic. It was great to see players taking on the information however what was more impressive was that the players started to develop their own learning and quickly applied their learning to the skill. It was amazing to see all players having a the basic principles of hitting the ball however there were individual characteristics to each ‘Pull’ shot. From a coaching point of view it is so important to be truly player centered and work with players on an individual level. The day finished with a cool down and team talk about the day in the shade away from the sun. Tan is looking good for the summer!

Day 5
Country Visit finishes on a high – Cyprus Passion for Cricket
Last day for me in Cyprus. Again the day started with blue skies however some rain came our way during the morning. The day started with a warm-up and fielding session. Players developed their throwing skills and focused on fielding ‘on the one’. Steve developed the session and focused on throwing at the wickets. The players enjoyed the high levels of activity and worked very hard.

The next session was focused on batting (Sweep Shot). The session started with hitting the balls off batting tees and then progressed to drop feeds and then bubble feeds. It was clear to see that the players were improving from the previous sessions and they were able to apply their skills to this shot.
The third session focused on bowling. Steve and I set up a middle practice session so that bowlers were able to bowl in a game environment. The day finished with a net session and it was great to see the improvements from all the players.

The Cyprus 2012 Emerging Players Programme was a great success. It was great to work with Steve over the past 5 days. All players developed and enjoyed the programme. Cyprus Cricket is making a positive impact and are developing Cricket in a effective way. The partnerships that they are developing will have a significant impact on developing cricket. On behalf of ICC Europe I would like to think Muhammad Husain and Philip Bell for their hard work to make this event possible.

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