Talking Sport: Grassroots is key to sporting success

Trevor Watson.
Trevor Watson.

The success of England’s Ben Stokes, who thumped 258 in 198 balls, in the second cricket Test in South Africa underlined the value of grassroots clubs in sport.

Mind you, the first thought was that it was a good thing they weren’t having a collection every time he scored 50. At the rate he went they wouldn’t have got half-way round before somebody was off with another cap.

At the same time as his sensational innings, there was a disappointing contrast as Cockermouth, the club which helped develop the young prospect, were cleaning up after their ground was again flooded.

Plenty of rugby league fans will know Cockermouth, it was a nice spot to have some snap before heading on to the delights of Workington’s Derwent Park.

Five years ago Cockermouth spent around £80,000 sorting out the flood damage and they missed a whole summer of home games. There has been emergency finance from Sport England and the English Cricket Board may help but the club are considering selling souvenirs sent to them by Stokes from his England appearances. We hope that isn’t necessary.

The Stokes blitz tended to overshadow Jonny Bairstow whose unbeaten 150 was a perfect foil and reward for a genuine trier, whose batting played a huge part in Yorkshire’s Championship success.

After noting a crowd of 80,000 in Melbourne for a Big Bash T20 game, English officials are trying to find room in the calendar for a similar event in this country to showcase such as Stokes and Bairstow.

One point might be to make games more available to such as ITV and BBC, although the latter will, of course, be reluctant to pay. They managed to show three balls of the Stokes innings on the news.

Stokes even overshadowed the fuss over wins by Man U and Chelsea, who both managed to score more than one goal in a game for a change. Chelsea have piled up 26 goals in 20 games, while United have 24. Liverpool, who paid a fortune for a striker, have just 22. Meanwhile Everton, who have scored 36, have unhappy fans because they are 11th, due to the fact they have conceded 29 but that means 65 goals in their 20 games which seems good entertainment to me.

By gum they don’t mess about in Fev. Rovers played a bunch of youngsters in their pre-season game against local amateurs Featherstone Lions last Sunday.

Pouring rain caused the second half to be restricted to 30 minutes. There was a mass brawl which led to three players sent off for fighting – two from Rovers – while the Lions had two others ‘marched’ for dissent. Sounds like a good, healthy friendly and there were over 1,200 to see it. I bet nobody complained, except perhaps the ref.

The FA Cup third round this weekend has neutrals rubbing their hands at the prospect of Liverpool visiting Exeter City on Friday night with hopes of a major upset. Visiting supporters won’t be so happy, having to take a day off work. But since when did fans matter?