THE All Stars Cricket programme is attracting youngsters to the sport in Worcestershire.

More than 600 aged between five and eight have signed up for 2018 — an increase of 20 per cent on last year.

Thirty-eight centres are involved in the eight-week programme which got under way last Friday.

The aim is to attract as many new children and families to cricket as possible and 30 per cent of those signed up in the county are girls.

Worcestershire Cricket Board development director Tom Hill said: “One of our hubs in Droitwich is the second biggest nationally. They’ve had over 100 kids signed up.

“To have so many new kids by this time is fantastic given the snow and poor weather and people not really thinking about cricket until now.

“That is credit to the team of coaches that are going out doing taster sessions and introducing kids to the game.

“For example, at a taster session at Webbs Garden Centre (near Droitwich) more than 100 kids turned up who were all new to cricket which is brilliant.

“Clubs are starting to do a really good job with promoting All Stars and grants have been distributed earlier in the year to help make their facilities more family-friendly.

“We’ve got 38 centres across Worcestershire this year — an increase of 15 compared to last year.

“I think we have got a programme that will challenge football and other sports in terms of the quality it has to offer — the kit, the quality of the activities and the opportunities for parents to get involved in their children’s sessions.

“We’re aspiring to make this the best hour of the week for young families.

“Through this programme we’re aiming to inspire a generation to choose cricket.

“We’ve got hubs across the county which are really driving women’s and girls' cricket.

“We are encouraging parents to be involved in the warm-ups. It really is about that shared experienced.”

Hill paid tribute to the board staff who have played a major role in the success of the scheme in 2018.

He added: “Craig Oakley (club development manager), Sam Wyles (youth participation officer), Jim Hanson (marketing and communications), Chathura Pinnawala (media), Dan Such (cricket development coach) and Emily Arlott (cricket development coach) have all done a brilliant job in ensuring the scheme is a success.”

Anyone wanting to sign up to their local centre can register at