Alex Massie

Cricket and ASBOs

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Like Norm, I am entirely unsurprised by this:

The Phrase "it's not cricket" is reverberating again around state school classrooms. Good old-fashioned cricketing values have prompted an improvement in behaviour in schools, according to the evaluation of a project to promote the sport in schools to be published later this week.

The "Chance to Shine" scheme, designed to promote cricket in state schools by sending in club coaches to teach the game, has had a spin off beyond PE lessons. According to researchers at Loughborough University, schools which have taken part in the scheme report improved behaviour in school generally as a result of participating in it.

Admittedly even cricket cannot cure all. My own club, for instance, suffered a blow this summer when one young player - one, more to the point who could be relied upon to turn-up when he said he would - was sentenced to four months accommodation at Her Majesty's Pleasure after a regrettable altercation in the town market square. Even so, generally speaking, cricket is a force for good for the ASBO generation.

True too, mind you, that the game has never been as clean or as ethical as is often, or generally imagined. But it is the tension between the reality of cricket - and, for that matter, human psychology - and what Lincoln, in more trivial circumstances, called "the better angels of our nature" that is responsible for much of the game's appeal and, yes, it's usefulness as a "character-building" enterprise.

Norm is also correct to ask that something be done to train the Barmy Army how to watch cricket too. Fat chance of that, of course.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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