A range of initiatives aimed at boosting the involvement of young people, women and those with disabilities feature among the awards, which recognise the efforts of clubs and individuals throughout New Zealand.
Mark Lane, National Development Manager for New Zealand Cricket, said the awards reflect the huge contribution that local cricket clubs and their members make towards increasing interest and participation in cricket among their own communities.
“Volunteers are essential to the effective running of the game,” he said. “Every season many hundreds of people give their time up for the benefit of others, as well as sustaining and developing the game at the grassroots level”.
Each Major Association made a nomination for each of the five categories. The final winners were:
Best Club Cricket Initiative – Waitakere Cricket Club (Auckland)
Best Women’s Cricket Initiative – Halswell Cricket Club (Christchurch)
Best Youth Cricket Initiative – Merivale-Papanui Cricket Club (Christchurch)
Best Junior Cricket Initiative – Junior Cricket Upper Hutt (Wellington)
Service to Cricket Award – Tony Buckingham (Auckland)
Waitakere Cricket Club hosted people of all abilities at an ‘Adapted Cricket Open Day’. The club provided coaching in MILO Cricket for those with physical and intellectual impairments. Many of the players had never held a cricket bat before and were able to learn some new skills. Some 45 disabled people, along with their supporters, attended.
The club also enlisted the support of the Blind Cricket Association, who showcased their sport and assisted others with impairments to give it a go. Participants also had an opportunity to play table cricket, a new initiative recently established in Waitakere, which allows players with significant impairments to play a table-top version of cricket.
Halswell Cricket Club won the Best Women’s Cricket Initiative for their commitment to increasing the number of girls playing the game. In a short space of time they have gone from having two girls playing to having two teams participating in the Christchurch competition.
Halswell has also developed a number of Canterbury representative girls players and played a major part in initiating the successful girls-only holiday programme involving 32 girls across Christchurch.
Merivale-Papanui Cricket Club formed a partnership with a local secondary school, Papanui High School, to develop a cricket programme for youth cricketers in the North-West of Christchurch. Merivale-Papanui had a thriving junior programme, but this stopped after the children went off to secondary school, with a lot of them giving up the game. The result of this new partnership has been the establishment of three youth cricket teams and a new, vibrant cricket environment for youth in the North-West of Christchurch.
Junior Cricket Upper Hutt won the Best Junior Cricket Initiative for their club-only 6-a-side tournament. The club wanted an opportunity for their teams to meet and play cricket with each other. 120 players from the club turned up – around 40 percent of the club’s membership. On the day, players are randomly selected into teams depending on their grade so they are making friends outside of their usual team mates.
Tony Buckingham won the Service to Cricket award after years of service to cricket on the North Shore of Auckland. Since 1993 Tony has undertaken many voluntary roles within North Shore Cricket Club, Westlake Boys’ High School, and North Harbour Junior Cricket. His roles include; coaching and managing teams, committee member, convenor, umpiring, scoring, fundraising, grounds manager, funding applications, gear coordinator and event coordinator.
“The value of Tony’s contributions cannot be measured,” said Mark Lane. “He has made a huge difference to an enormous number of young cricketers and their families. His trademark generosity of spirit, humility, welcoming manner and willingness to always go the extra mile and do anything that needs doing is what makes Tony a stand out.”
The five winners of the development awards, as well as Stephen Jones, the recipient of the 2008 Sir Jack Newman award, will be invited to attend New Zealand Cricket’s annual awards dinner in Auckland later this year. Stephen Jones, from Auckland will receive a trophy, a formal certificate and a grant of $2000 which he will be able to direct to any area of junior cricket.