For many people, the coming of summer means the start of a new cricket season. Cricket bags are brought down from the loft and bats are wafted around, before the dreams of all the runs that are going to be scored are shattered by a first-ball duck.

I have played club cricket in Suffolk for the best part of 20 years, a sometimes grumpy, slowish bowler, with a batting mantra of ‘here for a good time, not a long time’ (my one and only century seems so unbelievable, and is now so distant, that it’s passed into myth). Even though my appearances have become more infrequent, there are few things in life which beat spending a Sunday afternoon playing cricket in the sun.

Some people say cricket is too slow, too complicated, and full of niche jargon like ‘googlies’ and ‘silly mid on’. However, if you look beyond the quirky rules and weird names for things, there is a simplicity that lies at the heart of the sport. Transcending the digital age, its sometimes odd traditions anchor you in a bygone era. That may not appeal to everyone, but I think that is something special, something to cherish.

‘Village’ cricket feels like its own particular brand. People of all abilities, ages, shapes and sizes take to the field in varying shades of cricket whites. The grounds, pavilions and - most crucially for some - food and beverages can range from the ridiculous to the sublime depending on where you’re visiting on the circuit. Comedic batting collapses, haphazard fielding and terrible bowling resulting in wickets only adds to the spectacle, rather than diminishes it.

I know that it’s a real luxury to be able to essentially spend a whole day in a field, and there has been a worry for some time that cricket - especially its longer formats - may not be able to compete in a world where attention spans are decreasing and the need for instant results are heightened. Participation at a grassroots level isn’t stable, and we have lost some clubs in Suffolk over the past few years.

Across sport more widely, there are a few signs of encouragement when it comes to children’s participation, with 100,000 more girls playing football than five years ago, and overall activity levels largely returning to pre-pandemic levels.

However, there are still 2.2 million children who are active for less than 30 minutes a day on average, and there is also evidence to suggest that children from low-income families may be struggling to access sports activities due to the expense. This is likely to be exacerbated by the ongoing cost of living crisis, and it robs talented young people of the opportunity to take part in a sport they love.

All of this comes at a great physical and mental wellbeing cost, and it also puts the long-term future of grassroots sports at risk. If children and young people aren’t able to get involved from an early age, who will be sustaining our local sports clubs in the future?

I want all kids to have the opportunities I had growing up, to have the joy of playing sport, to be part of a team, to build the bonds that will stay with them far into adulthood, to be part of a community’s heritage and tradition.

Cricket might not be your game, but we must look to protect our local, grassroots clubs whether they are football, rugby, hockey, netball, tennis, running, cycling, boxing or swimming. We need to make sure they are accessible and properly funded, and that the volunteers who work so hard to keep them going, are supported and thanked.

Sport must be for everyone, now and into the future.