Moeen Ali goes back to street cricket roots
Moeen Ali batting during his visit to the Chance To Shine Street in Sparkhill, Birmingham
England and Worcestershire batsman Moeen Ali took a break from preparing for the third Ashes Test to head back to Sparkhill, Birmingham, where he grew up, to see a Chance To Shine Street session taking place.
Moeen joined in with youngsters aged between eight and 14 to play street cricket at Sparkhill Park, all made possible by the partnership between Chance To Shine and Lycamobile.
He took part in a fast-paced version of the game using a tapeball - a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape - with innings lasting 20 balls and games lasting 20 minutes.
These games are typically played on hard courts and community centres in urban areas, far removed from the traditional grass pitches.
There was also some Kwik Cricket on show as well, enabling the youngsters to show off their skills in front of Moeen, who thoroughly enjoyed his day with them.
"Today has been amazing," he said.
"To be back home, the area where I grew up, and give back to the community a little bit and be part of Chance to Shine again, it’s been fantastic."
Chance To Shine Street & Lycamobile
Chance to Shine Street was launched in 2008 to bring cricket to young people in urban areas where there are few green spaces and fewer traditional cricket clubs.
The charity is also using the game to promote social cohesion and connect young people from different backgrounds in diverse communities.
Lycamobile became headline sponsors Chance To Shine Street earlier this year.
Talking about Chance to Shine Street, he added: “It keeps them off the streets and cricket can teach them a lot about life.
"It’s about giving back to the communities and giving children an opportunity. Lycamobile do that brilliantly.
"To give a child an opportunity in life is a big thing. I was very fortunate that I had it. Not everybody gets that opportunity."
And he was full of praise for the work being done by the Warwickshire Count Board coaches.
"I’ve known these guys for a very long time and they do a great job for the kids.
"They need a lot of help and support. To do this (coach) every day is not easy.
"These guys are the unsung heroes. They do a lot for the community."
The youngsters themselves were also delighted to get the chance to meet Moeen, among them 14-year-old Chance To Shine Street participant Kashif.
"As an England fan it's really exciting to have Moeen here.
"I was really happy to have a Q&A with him and he showed us how to grip the ball. This is the power of cricket.
"We're local lads and it shows that famous cricketers can come from wherever, right?"
Chance to Shine coach Mohammed Arif added: "Sport and specifically cricket, is the glue that brings everybody together.
"Whether you are part of a different part of the country, a particular background, it doesn’t matter. It is life changing."
Moeen Ali is bowled out during his visit to the Chance To Shine Street in Sparkhill, Birmingham
© Cricket World 2015