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50,000 youngsters targeted to join in cricket!

A nationwide beginner-level cricket participation programme has been launched by the sports governing body in an attempt to entice 50,000 youngsters this year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has established the All Stars Cricket scheme, aimed at giving 5-8 year-olds the chance to experience the game for the first time.

Parents can register their children to the programme, which will start for eight weeks in May. The programme was developed with input from former England captain and ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

After signing up, children will receive a cricket backpack that includes a bat and a ball.

The programme will be delivered through local cricket clubs and centres across England and Wales.

Matt Dwyer, ECB Director of Participation and Growth, said bringing in children from an early age will "develop more players, create more fans and show the power of cricket in developing physical and social skills.”

"We have big ambitions to significantly grow the game and this programme is all about putting a bat and ball in the hands of more children at an earlier age,” he added.

"First and foremost, we want to make playing cricket a fun and enjoyable experience for children and give them a passion for the game to last a lifetime.”

Sports minister Tracey Crouch said: "All Stars Cricket is exactly the type of programme we are keen to see more of.

"It is vital to encourage children to have a happy, healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.”