This week Cricket World was lucky enough to be joined by former England international Dean Headley, who has recently been sharing his wisdom with youngsters at the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy. By John Pryor.
Headley spoke extremely positively about the potential impact the Flintoff Academy could have on the lives of young cricketers:
"It gives the boys and girls the opportunity to learn more," he said. "It is important that they go to the right people and boot camps like this get people to meet players; this inspires them, just like the Olympics."
Headley, along with other famous England players are playing an active supporting role for Flintoff in his quest to help youngsters around the country get interested in cricket,
"Obviously Freddie can’t get to every camp (there are 60 venues across the country), if he can’t be there, Activate Sport who run it sends former Test players. I’ve started doing it this year, hopefully, I’ll do a few more; Alec Stewart, Mark Ramprekash and Jimmy Anderson have also got involved."
When asked whether he feels like an Academy such as this would have benefitted him as a youngster, Headley replied:
"Yes definitely, though it’s long time since I was a little boy! We used to copy what the learned in the playground in the park, hopefully the kids can take some of what they’re doing at these camps into their everyday life….it gives them a focus and a challenge."
Moving on to discuss recent events in cricket Headley also responded positively to questions about England’s summer so far:
"For me there are two world class sides in the world - England and South Africa. This is the pinnacle of those two coming together. Although England were completely outplayed at The Oval, and it was looking like they were going to be outplayed at Headingley, I think if it wasn’t for rain England would have won the last Test match.
"It is good to see proper Test cricket, South Africa took all the initiative in the first one but England really fought back well."
He also seemed confident that England could maintain their number one Test ranking, but stressed the fact that they must play more aggressively, especially with the ball, if they are to succeed.
He added to this that, for him, Graeme Swann has to play at Lord's.
On to more controversial issues, Headley proceeded shared his views on the recent statements made by Kevin Pietersen:
"When they made him they broke the mould, great player, but I’m a bit perplexed about the timing of his statement, to come out after such a good England performance, it switched the focus back on to him.
"It’s not something I would have done. If you’re going to retire, retire, to say I’m thinking of retiring doesn’t do much. He's a fantastic player but if he’s tired and doesn’t want to play anymore he has to make the choice."
Finally, although earlier Headley mentioned the Olympics as having the potential to inspire youngster he is not so keen to see cricket in future Olympic Games:
"Not really, I’m not sure whether tennis should be there, simply because the Olympics is something special, winning that is the ultimate," he said.
"The World Cup will always be a higher accolade, it’s hard putting sport into it when it’s not the be all and end all. It wouldn’t be a pinnacle for a Test player - win The Ashes or a gold medal? People would say winning The Ashes."
The Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy, in partnership with the Co-operative gives aspiring young children the opportunity to learn new cricket skills or perfect their tactics and game by qualified coaches in a fun environment.
Flintoff and Activate Sport are looking all round the country for new talent this Summer. “The academy has grown year after year and this year we have 60 venues. It's great, as we get to see so many kids of different abilities enjoying the game, being active and playing with a smile on their face, all over the country.”
© Cricket World 2012
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