24th May: Mumbai Indians v R. Royals, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
In the latest of a series of interviews with former players and coaches who are lending their support to Andrew Flintoff's Cricket Academy this summer, Alex Tudor spoke to us about his time at a camp in Shrewsbury.
Below are his thoughts on the camps, inspiring youngsters to get involved and the Olympics.
Alex, you've been down at Shrewsbury today, which is a lovely part of the world, helping out with the Andrew Flintoff Academy. Tell us more...
Yes, it's been absolutely beautiful. I was absolutely blown away when I turned up to see some of their facilities and the surroundings the kids have at their disposal. They also have fantastic support staff that they incorparate in the Flintoff Academy, good enthuasiatic young coaches that know their stuff - the kids are very lucky to have them.
The facilities are outstanding. With facilities like that there's no excuse, as long as you work hard and have fun, enjoy the people around you, you never know, maybe we'll see some more budding England stars in the future.
Shrewsbury was of course the area where current England international Alex Tudor once played, so it's nice to have that as an added incentive for the youngsters?
Yes that's right, it's always really good when you have somebody at the top, and he is at the top at the moment, someone they can aspire to and somebody who has come through this system. Straightaway they familarise thereselves with that person. James Taylor is a brilliant player, he's done awfully well since he came into the first-class game.
He scored a very good 34 up at Headingley, he's going to get his chance in a very big game at Lord's which we need to win. The kids I'm sure, from the school, and the locals will be cheering him on and I hope we can stay number one in the world.
Talk about why initiatives such as these are so important?
They are important, especially in an age where the computer has taken so much precedence over these young kids today. When I was growing up it was 'you get outside, you play in your garden or local park, and you just mix in'.
There is nothing better now especially with the great Olympics we just had, it was a cracking two weeks, everybody is so in love with athletics at the moment. Even my seven-year old daughter is so enthused and wants to go to a running track and try all the different gymnastics and swimming. We have to thrive on this now, I know there's a campaign Michael Vaughan started off where we should try and get an hour of day of activities in schools.
I know the government at the moment are trying to restrict that. I think it's important, especially after the Olympics, that to seize the opportunity while the kids have a love for sport to get it in there. 29 gold medals: if that doesn't inspire a new generation I don't know what will.
Is the Andrew Flintoff Academy something you would have benefitted from as a youngster?
Yes, especially to see current and ex-professionals turning up at your venue, someone you can familarise yourself with and sort of think 'right they've been there' and get to have ask questions, a bowl at the pro and sort of test yourself.
There were times in my career whilst I was younger - Mike Gatting gave us a talk on how to play spin bowling, John Emburey gave us a master class on spin bowling so I have been quite lucky but nowhere near the skill of the acadamys around now.
As I've said they've got great support staff, the young coaches, they know their stuff and they're very enthuastic which is important for young kids because their attention span goes very quickly.
They're brilliant. You can tell by the numbers, 80+ sometimes 100 going there. Hopefully as I said if you get 1 or 2 of these kids coming throuh it's a win for me and it's a scheme very well done.
And finally, you've pointed to the importance of the Olympics in getting youngsters involved in sport, what about the possibility of cricket appearing in the Olympics in the future?
It's interesting, I've always said maybe an amateur cricket side could compete. There is just no time at the moment, especially at the international level you never know when they could factor it in.
Maybe you could get an amateur or a younger side, a little bit like what they did with the football with an age limit and a few senior players.
Not everybody can say 'we got a gold medal', or 'we were in the Olympics' but it would just be trying to factor it in, there just so much international cricket at the minute would be difficult.
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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