Balls launches contest to boost cricket in schools

Children's Secretary Ed Balls will today launch a contest to boost cricket in schools.

Mr Balls is challenging pupils to come up with new ways to extend the reach of cricket and to use the sport to raise standards across the school curriculum.

The two schools with the best ideas will each receive a set of 15 tickets for one of the ICC World Twenty20 matches at Lord's.

The first challenge could focus on getting more girls involved, small sides or indoor tournaments.

The second could involve the application of cricket to particular subjects - from the technology used in the computerised ball-tracker, Hawkeye, to the way the story of cricket reflects the history of Britain and its colonies.

Mr Balls, who is attending the Sports Colleges Conference at Telford, Shropshire, said: "From the village green to the Ashes tests to playground scratch games, cricket is part of our national identity.

"Not only does it have obvious health benefits for young people, it also develops them in other ways - co-ordination, balance, team work, tactics, and remaining calm under pressure.

"I'm convinced it can have benefits across the curriculum too. Cricket is often called an art and a science - it's time for schools to demonstrate that."