The following post, from Danny Baker, the Cricket Coordinator of the project, outlines its aims and his personal love of the game. Danny has a Bachelor's Degree in Sports & Exercise Science but more importantly, is a true cricket tragic. From the days of being nurtured by a father with a passion for the game, his role as Disability Executive with Surrey Cricket Club and through to his present playing and coaching role at Beddington Cricket Club in County Surrey, this is a man with the only sort of cricket pedigree that matters ... a deep and tragic love of the game.
I commend this project to you.
When I was seven years old, my dad had a near fatal motorbike accident. I was devastated, but one thing it did was allow my dad to be home throughout my childhood. I used to spend hours with him watching TV, and the only thing that was ever on was cricket. My dad used to spend hours watching England play whoever were in their way and “punish” all of us by making us watch cricket all day. After my third day in a row “being naughty,” my dad realised I loved cricket and the game was up.
The game was great, but having something I could enjoy with my dad was the real draw. We used to spend hours talking about school, life and love, and I realised so much I learn is very applicable to cricket. As an example, I learnt how to cross the road safely by observing cricketers take a quick single; I realised the penalties for making mistakes both on the road and at the crease were harsh to say the least. I still hate getting run out.
I am fortunate to have now shared my life lessons with thousands of adults, children and teachers on every continent and have seen many things that people would only dream of through our wonderful sport. My proudest moment was playing my first ever cricket match at my school and my dad was so proud. All of the lessons I had learnt previously, all of those hours in the garden bowling at a tree and the conversations I had with Dad about the game were happening for real. My dad and mum were my biggest fans and followed me everywhere in cricket for a decade after that.
These opportunities and lessons were only available due to my mum’s dedication to visit every charity shop to find me whites, a cricket bat and buckle pads that Sachin Tendulkar would have been proud of. Mum even found me an arm guard as I loved watching Atherton bat with his, and striding out to the wicket for my first innings (and very shortly my first golden duck) was something I couldn’t get enough of. Throughout the following years, I learnt how to win, lose, accept both, make decisions, understand the consequences of my actions and ultimately be a better person. You don’t learn these at school. I feel that young people all over the world need both school and play to help them become well-rounded individuals to lead the future of the world.
I worked for a number of years at a sports charity working at World Cups, refugee camps and even with soldiers on the front line using cricket to get through to young people where nothing else will and it inspired me to keep “The Spirit of Cricket” alive. I truly believe in it, and the very nature of the game means everyone can play the game, it can be adapted to suit all needs and, frankly, variations of the game are played in the four corners of the world. I have never known a community like cricket where they will find a way to play in even the most bizarre and challenging of circumstances.
I currently continue my cricket work running the blind team for the Kent CCC and the physical and learning team for Surrey CCC. I support local refugees (mainly from Afghanistan) as they develop their language and social needs through the sport they love and also work mentoring young people to become the cricket coaches they can be in the future. One chance meeting has allowed me to feel that my work and mission is getting to the right people.
One World Play Project is a U.S.-based company makes, sells and distributes products and services to enable play around the world, especially for those living in the harshest environments where play is nearly non-existent. The company is a B Corporation, harnessing the power of business to ignite social change. One World Play Project launched nearly five years ago with the ultra-durable One World Futbol, a soccer ball that never needs a pump and never goes flat, even when punctured. The company’s Buy One, Give One program allows people to give One World Futbols to organisations working with youth in disadvantaged communities worldwide.
Next up for One World Play Project is the One World Cricket Ball, a cricket ball that is more durable, safer and more hygienic than tape balls and leather cricket balls. I am working with One World Play Project on testing this product, finding suitable partner organisations and all things cricket.
I realised cricket was a release for me. It helped me deal with my challenges, focus my mind on my abilities and told me to accept every aspect of my being as long as it was the best I could be. None of this would have been possible without my doting parents, a chance encounter with several charity shops and having the opportunity to play. I like to think One World Play Project is allowing millions of young people to be children and learn the lifelong lessons in life through the sports and games they love. As One World Play Project has worked on the One World Cricket Ball, I have been privileged to see its evolution and the impact it has already had on people’s lives.
The One World Cricket Ball has been used to support street children in India, help African women understand the challenges and dangers of female genital mutilation, help people with disabilities in the UK focus on their immense abilities and help bring the black and white communities of South Africa together. I am immensely proud I can pass on the things I hold dear and learnt as a child to young people who so badly need it. Naturally, we can always do more.
One World Play Project is looking for people to join “The Spirit of Cricket” through partnerships and sponsorships to help young people in disadvantaged communities play with a more durable, safer, more hygienic cricket ball. Providing cricket balls for young people that will not break and will be safe for continual use is frankly a wonderful gift to give any child, and we would love your support. For more information on getting involved with this wonderful initiative, please visit oneworldplayproject.com/partnerships/become-a-partner or message me directly at email@example.com.
In a time when bowlers are sledging too much, fielders are intimidating players through abuse or match fixing risking the integrity of our wonderful sport, why not do your bit to preserve the “Spirit of Cricket”?
One World Play Project