Hampstead Cricket Club seek to promote women’s game with girls’ taster session

Hampsteads Sian Culley (left) and Jess Black celebrate a wicket against Chesham last season

Hampsteads Sian Culley (left) and Jess Black celebrate a wicket against Chesham last season - Credit: Archant

Hampstead Cricket Club are celebrating their 150th anniversary in style this week with a host of taster sessions aimed at promoting the women’s game.

A women’s training event took place on Tuesday evening at the club’s home ground on Lymington Road, and the inaugural girls’ taster session will be held on Sunday from 9.30am until 11am.

Nestled in the bosom of north-west London since 1865, Hampstead’s men’s team won the Middlesex County League title in 2013, while the women’s side was formed in 2005.

Club chairman Jim Carter, an actor of Downton Abbey fame, has been heavily involved in the growth of women’s cricket and now the 66-year-old is campaigning to leave a legacy for girls’ cricket development at Hampstead.

“It’s the one missing piece in the jigsaw,” he told Ham&High Sport. “The women’s team are integral to the club, both on the field and with volunteering in club activities. For many years now, the side has been viewed as a brilliant social outlet, plucking players from universities.

“Emma Edwards is a 13-year-old who has been playing with the women’s team since she was 11 and my daughter, Bessie, was part of the first recruitment drive, joining Hampstead when she was 12. We believe that there are many more like them out there who will want to follow their paths.

“We’re a great club right in the heart of West Hampstead. There are many women here who play hockey in the winter months, and cricket is the perfect summer sport to stay active and enjoy a wonderful social experience at the same time. This week’s open training sessions offer anyone the chance to get a taster of what we’re about.”

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Carter’s affiliation with Hampstead began 10 years ago when he, along with colts cricket assistant Heather Fletcher – who has been a member of the club for 10 years – established a Ladies XI in the Middlesex Development League.

They now have over 30 players and two teams that are preparing for a tour of La Manga in a few weeks, where they hope to retain a Twenty20 tournament title.

Carter was a central figure in a charity dinner event held at Lord’s Cricket Ground in March, where over £20,000 was raised for the club. This has now placed Hampstead in a position to support girls’ cricket further down the chain, with a view to introducing a social environment for Camden’s youngsters, as well as promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Local state primary and secondary schools, including Christ Church and South Hampstead High School, have been targeted with fliers to make more girls aware of the cricket club on their doorstep, and Carter is determined to continuing increasing that profile.

“We have a very experienced coach, Mike Thompson, who will be coaching the girls so this week’s training session is the perfect place for those who are new to the sport to learn from a very bespoke coach,” he said.

“We have about 250-plus boys who train, and the girls have had to join in with them until now. What we’d like is for girls aged seven and upwards to join the club, so that we can have teams of all junior age groups.

“We plan to use this summer as a starting block, setting up friendlies, so that by next year we will be able to enter local leagues with girls’ teams of all age levels.

“A lot of schools don’t play cricket, but with our club based close to several transport links, I believe we are the perfect place for young cricketers of both genders to develop.

“On June 7, the full England women’s cricket team will put on a training masterclass for young female cricketers, before playing Hampstead’s Under-21 men’s side in a friendly. It’ll take time, but we have everything in place here to achieve our goals.”

Anyone interested in taking part in Sunday’s girls’ taster session should email girlscricket@cltc-hcc.com.