We talk to NT Cricket’s General Manager of Game Development and Performance, John Stock, about how the players’ presence will still be felt long after they have returned home.
For the first time in four years, the Australian Men’s Team player camp returned to the Northern Territory. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity for the boys to prepare for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in a similar environment to the tournament’s host-country (the event will be held in Sri Lanka later this year), but, as NT Cricket’s General Manager of Cricket Development and Performance, John Stock, explained, the leverage of the visit will reach far beyond the time that the Aussie boys spent in the top end.
NT cricket fans had plenty to rub shoulders with their idols while they were up north, starting at the Tiwi Islands. On Friday 10 August Ricky Ponting, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin accompanied John on a visit to the cricket-mad community.
“The Tiwi Islands one of our strongholds for cricket, we have a good working relationship with them,” John said. Already there are three in2CRICKET centres, with about 250 kids participating, on the islands. However the impact that the visit of the Australian players had on the locals was apparent effective almost immediately. “…on Monday…all the kids were out playing cricket at lunchtime on the back of that visit,” John said.
The following day was the sign-on day for the new T20 Blast program. John noted that the day was very successful, with over 250 kids already signing up for the program, based on the latest international form of the game, in its inaugural year.
“When the kids turned up (for the sign-on day) the players were on their lunch break, so they went and played around with them and signed autographs, which was really great,” John said.
Monday 13 August brought a day of cricket festivities to Dripstone Middle School. Year 8 students played host to 250 year 6 children from six local primary schools, treating them to a variety of cricket activities including continuous cricket, diamond cricket, and other modified versions of the game. Not only was this a fun day away from the classroom for the year 6 kids, but also it was a great opportunity for the Dripstone students to learn about leadership skills. Plus they were all treated to a visit by 16 of the Australian players!
“They just loved it,” John said. “(Michael) Clarke and (Shane) Watson…arrived at recess for the middle school, so they signed autographs for all the kids who were coming out of class.”
So sure, we all would have loved to meet our sporting heroes as kids, but is there any long-lasting benefit to such a fleeting visit? Absolutely, according to John.
“The impact of the Australian players coming here will be felt long after they have gone.”