Take Aussie route to cricket fame

Ipswich's Indoor Cricket Stadium director Steve Bulger has called upon the town's schools to make more use of the Henley Road facilities.

By Stuart Watson

Ipswich's Indoor Cricket Stadium director Steve Bulger has called upon the town's schools to make more use of the Henley Road facilities.

The eight-a-side version of indoor cricket sees the game played on a conventional cricket pitch length completely surrounded by tight netting just a few metres away.

Although the rules are largely the same as conventional outdoor cricket, action tends to be far more fast-paced due to the enclosed space.

There are only a handful of specific indoor stadiums for the sport in the UK, Ipswich being the only town in the entire eastern region to have one.

Bulger, who first set-up the stadium over 20 years ago, said: “I really want to encourage schools to come and play the game here.

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“We would do it for nothing for them to start with because I really think it would be beneficial for the children.

“We get a lot of children who have never played cricket at school come here and really enjoy themselves.

“It's perfect for schools because girls and boys can play together, you can play a game within a couple of hours and anybody of any standard can enjoy it.

“It really develops all the basic skills in children. You need the communication with your runner, plus the co-ordination skills required for throwing, catching and hitting the ball.”

This particular version of indoor cricket, as supposed to the English six-a-side sports hall version, was first invented in Perth, Australia in the late-1970s.

Of the eight players in each team, each must bowl two overs and bat in a partnership for four overs.

Striking different areas of the net earns the batsmen varying numbers of bonus points, while physical runs can also be made (the crease being only halfway up the pitch).

Batsmen can be 'dismissed' by all the conventional ways in outdoor cricket, however they do not leave the field when this happens, but simply lose five runs.

This year saw the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) take over the British Indoor Cricket Association (BICA), which is now known as the English Indoor Cricket Association (EICA).

In September the sport's World Cup came to Bristol where the Australians beat South Africa in both the men and women's finals.

Bulger, who played for England in the competition, said: “If you look at Australia's outdoor cricket side, they all started in indoor cricket. One day I would like to see someone play for England who started indoors.”

Ipswich Indoor Cricket Stadium, who have got a mens, womens, masters and junior side all playing at the top domestic level, have produced a number of international players over the years.

Bulger said: “There is an opportunity for youngsters there to take up the game early and potentially be representing their country at under-19 level within a few years.

“At Ipswich we have a number of good 16-year-olds that will be 19 come the next World Cup (Perth 2009) who we have high hopes for.”

If you are interested in giving indoor cricket a try, please call Steve Bulger on: 01473 216639 to arrange a trial session.