Building a Partnership with The ACE Programme
Bails went flying and sixes went sailing off into the trees at Chesham Road fields as Berkhamsted hosted an Under 18 Boys T20 tournament. Sides from Buckinghamshire Cricket Board, Hertfordshire Cricket and a team from the ACE Programme were all in attendance. The day not only saw some great cricket played, but also marked the start of an exciting partnership between Berkhamsted and the ACE Programme.
In overcast but humid conditions a tight game between Berkhamsted 1st X1 and Hertfordshire was won by Berkhamsted off the penultimate ball of the innings, a crucial knock of 38* from George H seeing the 1sts surpass the 131 needed to win.
Meanwhile, on the Junior Square ACE made a bright start to their innings before a collapse saw them slide to 127 all out. Despite the fall of regular wickets Buckinghamshire reached their target in the final over, which meant they would take on Berkhamsted in their second game with ACE playing Hertfordshire.
Whilst players, coaches, umpires and spectators enjoyed lunch, Chevy Green – who is Director of Programmes at ACE – was kind enough to give up his time to discuss the recently developed partnership between the ACE Programme and Berkhamsted School.
The ACE Programme is a charity launched by Surrey County Cricket Club in 2020 to increase the number of young people of African and Caribbean engaged in cricket. Black players make up less than 1% of the recreational game whilst there has been a 75% decline in black British professional players.* ACE began in London, but has since expanded to Bristol and Birmingham. You can read more about the work ACE does here.
Mark Costin, member of the PE Department and cricket specialist, has known and worked with Chevy Green for a number of years and, with Berkhamsted’s ongoing commitment to Equality, Diversity and Justice (EDI) in mind, approached ACE about establishing a partnership in which the latter could benefit from Berkhamsted’s resources and facilities. The importance of establishing and maintaining partnerships like this is made even more imperative in light of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC)’s report on English cricket, released last week. It found discrimination, including racism, sexism, classism and elitism, to be widespread within cricket.
It is therefore vital that Berkhamsted plays its part within wider efforts to address this and make cricket more inclusive and welcoming. The partnership with ACE will be a part of this. To begin with, it will include ACE playing fixtures in Berkhamsted’s annual Boys T20 tournament, as well as matches between ACE and Berkhamsted’s female sides. August will see fifteen players and five staff from ACE come to Berkhamsted for a week-long residential training camp with a stay in the boarding houses and full access to the school’s facilities.
As Chevy Green explains, this is significant. Independent schools “have amazing facilities that are not accessible to inner-city players. A lack of facilities within some of the most deprived areas means that so much talent is being potentially being missed. The more open schools like Berkhamsted can be with their facilities – which are often not used on Sundays and during the holidays – the more that benefits the game.”
Back out on the pitch, ACE made a much better batting effort, smashing 234 from their 20 overs against Hertfordshire, who could muster only 134 in response. Meanwhile another important knock from George H, with good support from Ed H, saw Berkhamsted hit 178 against Buckinghamshire, who fell some way short as they replied with 105.
On the pitch, it was the end of a highly successful day of cricket, with each side able to encounter opposition they usually do not play and gain vital cricketing experience. Off the pitch, the tournament marks the start of a partnership that can help to play a small part in addressing the significant inequalities that exist within the sport.
*Statistics provided by ACE Programme.