Hundreds of schoolchildren enjoyed a day to remember at New Road as part of a Worcestershire Cricket Board initiative which provided many of them with their first taste of the game.
Around 850 pupils from 18 Primary, Secondary and Special Schools across the County attended day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Leicestershire.
Groups of them watched the morning’s play from the Cathedral side of the ground. At the same time, many others were also able to experience coaching with Worcestershire Cricket Board Coaches on the King’s School Playing Fields adjacent to the ground.
There was also the thrill for two schools – Stourport High and Bishop Milner College, Dudley – to participate in a game on the outfield during the lunch interval.
Worcestershire players and coaches also interacted with pupils and signed autographs, while Pakistan star Azhar Ali spoke to one of the schools and had his picture taken with them.
It follows last year’s similar scheme during a One Day Cup match at New Road.
Worcestershire Cricket Board Schools Manager, Harry Kitchen, said: “We had 850 pupils from 18 schools around Worcestershire, Secondary, Primary and Special Schools.
“We ran a similar initiative last year, which worked well. It was interesting to see what the interest would be like for a Championship game, and there were still good numbers.
“What is the objective? It gives students a bit of an experience they might not otherwise have. Many schools we work with are in deprived areas and would probably have never been at a cricket ground before.
“It has given that first cricket experience and potentially inspired them to get further involved.
“We brought them to watch the cricket but also had the Kings Playing Fields available to undertake coaching with some of our coaches.
“Azhar came and spoke to one of the schools just before they went onto the pitch and had a picture with them, which was incredible.
“A lot of the players signed autographs, and it was good to have that interaction, and we hope to make this event a yearly thing.”