These students are part of the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) Junior Cricket Pathway, which offers students in years 7-11 a personalised programme of cricket activities that fit around their academic studies.
The masterclass took place at the Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre in the grounds of BACA, named by ‘The Cricketer’ magazine as one of the top cricketing schools in the country and is one of only four state schools included. Shane Warne was accompanied by Jimmy Adams, ex Hampshire opening batter, providing the students with a unique coaching team for the day.
Bobby Dubey, a year 13 student, said: “This day will stay with me for life. We are so lucky that the facilities here are second to none, but to have been guided today by Shane Warne is such a privilege. It was an amazing opportunity to pick his brains about strategy and technique. I want to play professional cricket and BACA is unique in balancing cricket and academics brilliantly. Today’s masterclass has not only improved my cricket skills but has inspired me to reach further to be the best I can.”
Frankie Cripps, year 11: “Today was so different and special. He taught me about picking the ball that’s going to be bowled, and really simplified it. I want a career in professional cricket and he’s really inspired me. Cricket is an amazing sport and teaches you not only the game, but how to be a better person and a gentleman. Opportunities like today, and the facilities here at BACA, are so motivating to anyone who wants a career in the sport.”
Maddy Storey, year 9, added: “I was really nervous, but after talking to Shane I felt much more relaxed. I’m a pace bowler, but he taught me lots about different bowling techniques. Which is especially amazing as he is one of the greatest of all time! He said I was a good batter too, which made me feel really proud of myself.”
Sir Rod Aldridge, Founder and Chair of the Aldridge Foundation, was the driving force behind establishing the cricket facilities and cricket academy programme. He believes passionately in the role that the experience and discipline of sport can play in supporting the aspirations, skills development and character of young people.
Shane Warne stated: “I have had a wonderful welcome here today and have encountered young aspiring cricketers with real talent and drive. Cricket is a sport that is increasingly accessible to both boys and girls and the mix of tactics, discipline, solo performance and team working learnt through cricket are truly valuable skills. I wish many more state schools had access to cricket facilities and coaches of the calibre I have witnessed here at BACA.”
Commenting on the masterclass Sir Rod Aldridge, said: “We are incredibly fortunate to have Shane Warne at BACA today. He has delivered an awe-inspiring experience for our students. Shane clearly shares my belief that the physical, employability and life skills that are developed through cricket are invaluable in young people’s lives.
“Today, Shane not only shared his passion for cricket and his expertise but also answered all the students’ questions with patience and great humour making them feel at ease and fuelling their aspirations and will to succeed. I and the team at the Cricket Centre, BACA and Sussex Cricket are extremely grateful to Shane Warne, ably assisted by Jimmy Adams, for providing this uniquely valuable experience today – an experience that isn’t usually within the reach of the young people we support and educate.”
BACA and the Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre are a beacon for sport in the state education sector with students able to combine their academic studies with top class cricket coaching in exceptional indoor and outdoor facilities. The Centre is also an MCC Foundation Hub, providing free to access training to state-educated 11-15 year olds.
A unique partnership with Sussex Cricket (SCCC) brings benefits to both the students and the club. SCCC provide performance coaches for the cricket academy programme and help maintain the facilities in terms of the cricket ground, and the Centre provides a home ground for SCCC Women and Girls squads. The Aldridge Foundation and SCCC also fund and run a local community cricket programme for young girls and local primary schools to support better physical and mental wellbeing across Brighton and Hove.
Bob Speight, Principal of BACA, said: “Shane Warne is a cricketer of immense talent and his track record and knowledge of the game is second to none. He’s an expert broadcaster with his in-depth perspective adding value to any cricket coverage. The impact Shane Warne’s visit will have on our students’ aspirations, motivation and of course cricketing skills will be enormous. All young people need more experiences of this type – not necessarily always of this calibre! – to look beyond school and help shape their future lives.”
Shane Warne and Jimmy Adams were welcomed to the Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre and BACA by Sir Rod, Bob Speight, and Alexia Walker, Director of Cricket at BACA.