Girls from Old Buckenham Cricket Club received some international guidance on Tuesday evening from former England captain Charlotte Edwards, writes Liam Apicella.
The 37-year-old, who retired in 2016, made the visit in her role as ambassador of Chance to Shine — an organisation which seeks to promote cricket in primary and junior schools throughout the country.
Old Bucks first established links with the charity six years ago, while in 2013 three of their players — Jade Hoyte, Hanna Free and Rebecca Cole — were interviewed by Chance to Shine about their future ambitions within the sport.
Four years later, the trio were among the Old Bucks players — many of whom also represent Norfolk — that were put through their paces by the three-time Ashes winner.
“It is nice for me to come to the minor counties, especially having grown up close to here (in Huntingdonshire),” said Edwards, who during her career won World Cups in 50-over and 20-over formats.
“I played a bit of cricket here in my time and it is nice to come along and see how big the appetite is for women’s cricket.
“To see so many young girls here tonight is inspiring for me as well as hopefully for them.
“It shows what an impact the Chance to Shine campaign is having. There is some great work being done.
“We can get good turnouts, even at very rural cricket clubs like this one, which is brilliant.”
Prior to the evening session, Edwards coached pupils from Chapel Road School and Old Buckenham High School, the latter of whom have a girls team through to a national final at Lord’s later this month.
And Edwards was impressed with the quality of player that is being produced within the Old Buckenham area.
“The school having made a national final is an incredible achievement,” she added.
“I was really impressed. They are a good bunch.
“I have only come in as a one-off obviously, but the enthusiasm for the game is there for all to see.
“The girls are really competitive, which is a good thing.”
As for the players themselves, coach Chris Dalton believes they will have benefited hugely from the experience, particularly in one aspect of their game.
“This has been useful for us because when you get somebody of Charlotte’s reputation and ability and she says the same things as I say, suddenly it becomes believable,” he said.
“The whole point of a lot of the exercises they have done with Charlotte is to get them to hit the ball hard.
“Cricket has changed. Whereas before it used to be about getting your defence right and your left elbow up, now you watch the Indian Premier League and you see nothing like that.
“Players want to win games quickly now.
“It is no longer a crime to hit the ball in the air. What we are trying to do is lose this fear of hitting the ball far.
“It’s not just girls, but kids in general. Charlotte has really helped with that.”