A FREE state school cricket festival took place in Cirencester last week. 

Cirencester Cricket Club - located on the Bathurst estate next to Deer Park School - decided to host the State School Festival of Cricket for under 11 and under 13 players from a number of clubs across the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

More than 110 children took part in the festival between Monday, August 28 and Friday, September 1.

The event was organised by the cricket club's junior co-ordinator Oliver Breen and was sponsored by The Ridgeway Thatching Company. 

The aim of the cricket festival was to provide high quality match opportunities for state school cricketers during the summer at no cost and no extra demand on other club coaches to give up time to help run games. 

Children from different schools and clubs played games of hardball T20 in randomly assigned teams.

There was no requirement to wear whites as the organisers wanted the event to feel welcoming and relaxed.

Coaches from MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) Foundation Cotswold hub also attended to identify players who may benefit from their 12-week free winter coaching programme. 

Olly Breen, junior fixtures secretary at Cirencester Cricket Club, said: “We have been blown away by the response to this festival, to have so many kids from across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire shows the demand there is among state school children in the area, and the quality of the cricket has been superb. 

"We would love to build on this and plan something even bigger and better in 2024."

Alex Brown, owner of The Ridgeway Thatching Company who sponsored the event, said: "Having watched my stepson Arthur play cricket and witnessing the genuine passion he and his peers have for the game, I couldn't help but notice the disparities in training and playing time based on their school affiliations.

"This drove me to support the club.

"When Olly approached us with the idea of sponsoring the tournament, it resonated with my belief in the grassroots approach and the value of a hard work ethic, making it a cause I wholeheartedly endorse."