Devon youth coach wins Spirit of Cricket award

ANDY Baylis got into cricket coaching by accident – and now he has won a top coaching award,

Baylis, who lives in Exeter, won the Spirit of Cricket award given out every year by Chance to Shine.

Chance to Shine is a charity set up 10 years ago to spread the game of cricket away from its strongholds in the private school sector.

Devon youth coach Trevor Griffin was honoured as coach of the year in 2011 by Chance to Shine.

Thousands of clubs all over the country have benefited from the Chance to Shine formula, where they are paired with state primary and second schools nearby.

The aim is to get state school youngsters – boys and girls – interested in playing cricket at a club.

Baylis, whose home club is Topsham St James, has been taking the cricket gospel into schools in and around Exeter for the past three years.

The Baylis formula – keep it fun to keep them interested – impressed the judges who awarded him the Spirit of Cricket accolade.

Yet it was only through his daughter Jo-Jo’s s interest in cricket that Baylis started coaching cricket in the first place.

“I played at school, at college and for a club, but was more involved in rugby for a long time,” said the 53 year old.

“Not long after we moved to Devon seven or eight years ago Jo-Jo began to get interested in the game and that brought her into contact with Griffin in the East District set-up.

“Through Trevor I got interested in coaching and thanks to Devon Cricket Board and Matt Cooke went through my level one and level two awards.”

Baylis, with his background in youth coaching through rugby and experience of working with children as a teaching assistant, was the turn-to candidate when Topsham St James signed up for Chance to Shine.

Among the  primary schools Baylis has visited with Chance to Shine are St Leonard’s, St Nicholas Primary, Topsham School, Countess Weir, Wynstream, Central, and secondary schools Willowbrook, St Peter’s High, St James’ High and St Luke’s High.

Some of the new cricketers unearthed by Baylis have joined Topsham. Others have gone to clubs such as Countess Wear.

“If there is a spin off to other clubs, that’s great,” said Baylis.

Baylis said his method is to make cricket fun by organising sessions that get everyone involved.

“If you just play games you have three or four people involved and the rest standing around largely static,” said Baylis.

“What I try to do is show them how to bat, how to hold ball and involve them in fielding games.

“The over-riding aim is to enthuse the children about cricket so they want to play again.”

Cooke, who nominated Baylis on behalf of the Devon Cricket Board, said the value of his work could not be underestimated.

“St Leonard’s School is a great example of the good work Andy has done in Exeter this year,” said Cooke.

“Andy has really embedded cricket within the school and also across the board in the city.

“He has really has embraced the spirit of cricket with this project and has spread the word throughout the school.”

The Chance to Shine presentations were hosted by corporate backer Nomura Bank at their offices in London.

Former cricketer and now TV presenter Mark Nicholas was one of the founders of Chance to Shine and among the guests at the awards lunch.

Other guests included Kent and England one-day star Sam Billings and England Women’s cricketers Kate Cross and Tammy Beaumont.

“I knew about three weeks before hand I had been nominated, but had no idea I had won until I received the award,” said Baylis.


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