Sports Letters:Hostile teachers impair talent

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Sir: One can only sympathise with the disgust of your correspondents Martin Johnson and Tim de Lisle at England losing the second Test in Melbourne and, quite rightly, they are looking round for ways of improving the England team.

However, I do not think sending yesterday's stars into the counties is going to work. The problem is the shortage of talent coming through, which is entirely due to the hostility to cricket in primary schools shown by the all-woman teaching-regimes aide d and abetted by the new all-woman governors which are now the norm in our primary schools.

In Croydon, out of 116 primary schools only 10 play cricket and those are schools with male headteachers. You and your colleagues are the very people to expose what is going on in our primary schools where the playing fields are being sold to developers because of lack of use and parents are powerless to stop it.

Last year, my wife and I introduced cricket to my son's primary school and the hostility we received from the teachers had to be witnessed to be believed. However, out of a school of 200 boy and girl pupils we managed a superb team from scratch and were able to make the local seven-a-side tournament, such was the enthusiasm of the children.

What is needed is for the cricket authorities to invest a considerable part of the money received from television rights and send coaches into every primary school at the parents' bequest. The coaches should capitalise on the keenness of the children by forming and training teams.

Youngsters must be taught cricket at an early age and the coaches must keep the pressure on them, because talented players are prone to slacken off and get out of the habit if they can.

There is no point in blaming television and video games for the demise of English cricket if there is no cricket at the schools in the first place.

Yours faithfully R J Smith Croydon