A MAJOR £8million inclusive cricket centre in the heart of the city to provide a new home for elite level, grass roots and recreational players is hoping to bowl council chiefs over.
University of Worcester bosses have drawn up plans for the brand-new centre in conjuction with David Morley Architects, the team behind the revamp of the Lords cricket ground, the Edgbaston Cricket Centre in Birmingham and the National Cricket Academy at Loughborough.
Should the centre win approval, sports chiefs hope an additional 8,000 cricketers including young children, disabled athletes, women’s squads and students would able to get involved in the game and take their chance to shine with bat and ball.
The centre will offer extensive indoor net practice for cricket at all levels, including all branches of disability cricket, as well as changing rooms, a specialist sports science base and teaching areas.
Mick Donovan, the University’s deputy Pro Vice Chancellor and head of the sxhool of sport and exercise science, said: “The University is proud to have created the UK’s first indoor sports venue specifically designed to include wheelchair athletes, in the University of Worcester Arena, which has been a huge success.
“We are delighted to now build on our commitment to providing outstanding inclusive sport and education facilities, through the creation of the International Inclusive Cricket Centre, which I’m sure will inspire generations to come, change perceptions on inclusion and unleash the potential cricket has to offer.”
The University has been working with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to develop the right specifications for much-needed centre and to explore funding options.
Once open, it’s envisaged the centre will become the base of all national disability cricket squads, including the current blind, deaf, learning disability and physical disability teams, and will also provide a much needed boost for the women’s game.
Worcestershire Cricket Board bosses also hope the centre will become an all-weather home for youth, grass roots and club cricket in the county.
The centre will also provide a unique new training base, a cricket-ball’s-throw away from Worcestershire County Cricket Club (WCCC), which is currently the only first class county ground without a training facility on site.
WCCC chief executive Matt Rawnsley said: “We are very proud of our cricket heritage here in Worcestershire and combining our expertise with that of the University, the ECB and others is really exciting for the future of the game.”
Ian Martin, ECB head of disability cricket, said: “The new cricket centre at the University of Worcester will provide a purpose built, state of the art cricket facility for the region and will become the home for England Disability Cricket.
“This is an extremely exciting development bringing together the cricket world’s leading disability programme and the globally acknowledged academic leader in inclusive sport.”