A new report shows that skills learned on the cricket field can permeate their way back into the classroom. In case you jump to the conclusion that this means we are now breeding a nation of cheats – ready to accept corrupt payments in exchange for throwing games – let me hasten to reassure you. The skills mentioned are those of tolerance, respect and good behaviour. The findings emerge from an evaluation of the national Chance To Shine cricket scheme, carried out by researchers at Loughborough University.
The scheme has been running for six years and has brought a new generation of young people into contact with a sport that was in danger of dying out in state schools. "There's a lot less friction in the playground when they are playing cricket," said Sue Wright, a teacher at Mayflower primary school in Leicester. "There's more friction when they're playing football and it spills over into the classroom, but when they play cricket they are a lot better."
The findings could have a message for the current England cricket team who, shall we say, did not show all the necessary spirit of forgiveness and team bonding during their recent five-nil drubbing in the one-day series against India. They should perhaps remember the words of this 10-year-old: "I need to keep my temper down and playing cricket has really helped me with this."
It was welcome back time to Stephen Twigg as Labour's new education spokesman as he made his first address in his new post last week. He was introduced by former Education Secretary Lord (Kenneth) Baker as the man who "possibly ended Michael Portillo's political career", although he quickly added that he had "successfully reinvented himself" and was "a much happier man now, although I don't think that was Stephen's objective".
For those with short memories, the moment when Twigg defeated Portillo in Enfield in the 1997 election was voted the third most important moment in TV history, behind the first landing on the moon and Nelson Mandela's release from prison. Follow that, then!