Trophy Tour passes through Bristol

22 March 2019

The Cricket World Cup doesn’t come about to the UK very often, every twenty years or so in fact.

Being second in popularity to The Ashes, in the opinion of many, a series which begins just 18 days after the Cricket World Cup tournament concludes, 2019 promises to be a huge year for the game nationally.  With this comes a great opportunity for the sport to prove itself to new generations, and show its capability of being comfortable on the main stage. 

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is proud to be hosting three of the competition’s warm up games as well as three Cricket World Cup fixtures throughout May and June at the Bristol County Ground; a venue almost unrecognisable from the one which hosted two Cricket World Cup games in 1999. 

Being a host venue affords opportunity to create new links in the local community, inspire people young and old to get involved in cricket and to excite a new audience who will visit the ground, many for the first time.  A large part of building these relationships was able to happen through the Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour which gave the license to take the Trophy around the host city of Bristol and surrounding areas over a weekend in March.

With four of the five countries represented on the pitch being from South Asia, and recognising that the black and minority ethnic (BAME) population of Bristol in particular is under-represented in many areas of the Cricket Club and Board’s engagement, a key consideration of the Trophy Tour was to improve these links, and use the opportunity of the Cricket World Cup as a catalyst for improvement. 

Gloucestershire Cricket and the Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB) saw the opportunity to bring the trophy to ‘Grassroots Cricket’ and ‘Unexpected Communities’, which were requested areas of engagement for the Trophy Tour, both of which were covered emphatically on Friday 8 March.  Over 200 children from local schools - already participating in curricular cricket - kicked off the weekend in a sports hall filled with noise and excitement in inner Bristol on the Friday morning – most of these children had never seen a World Cup of any kind before.

Although the Trophy Tour had been purposely designed not just to visit traditional landmarks in Gloucestershire and the South West, due to such a positive partnership with the SS Great Britain, this led to the necessity for it to be a part of the tour.  The team at the Brunel Institute worked tirelessly to create a stunning opportunity for all in attendance to see the trophy on board such an iconic national landmark.  From school children on a history trip, passersby who caught a glimpse of something out of the ordinary happening, to Gloucestershire Cricket members in attendance for a unique photo opportunity, everyone walked away happy as the trophy set sail for its next destination.

The Friday ended with a trip to a local community group, the Bristol 1st Muslim Scouts.  Over 80% of those who attended had never played cricket before, so having the trophy at their Scout Hut was certainly unexpected, and hopefully something they will never forget.  This also brought opportunity to learn more about the teams who are playing in the tournament, their history, flags, and music as well as trying out some cricket-based challenges.  All the young people involved in Friday’s activities will continue to be involved in cricket programmes in Gloucestershire through the Cricket Board, creating impactful partnerships with the sport for years to come.

On Saturday 9 March, local club competition winners, Downend Cricket Club, led the festivities with a special club event that included a bouncy castle, coconut shy, face painting and a visit from special celebrity guests Michael Vaughan, Ebony Rainford-Brent and Phil Tufnell.  Overall 170 people including 110 children came to their local cricket club for this rare event.

The St Mark’s Road Festival (the weekend’s main event) then took centre stage in the afternoon as more than 1,000 people enjoyed a street festival featuring food, music and a whole host of cricket-themed activities.  A batting simulator was also at the festival thanks to our friends from BatFast.

It was a privilege to take the Cricket World Cup Trophy to new audiences in the City, especially with a great turnout of fans supporting teams playing in Bristol this summer.

We estimate that 70% of people in attendance had never interacted with Gloucestershire Cricket before, and 30% were new to cricket altogether.  It was a perfect and unique way to introduce people to the game.

The morning of Sunday 10 March showcased an event named ‘Shaping Cricket in Bristol’ which gave a chance for BAME communities in the City to come together to discuss all matters relating to cricket.  For once the Trophy took a back seat whilst participants explored ways in which cricket can make its offer more inclusive.  130 individuals gave their opinions – all of which were valid – in some fascinating conversations about the future of the game.

The final event of the Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour in Bristol took place at the City Academy Sports Hall where 6 teams gathered to do battle in the indoor format of the game.  Again, music and colour took centre stage along with some great fast action.  It rounded off a superb weekend as everyone left smiling having seen the Trophy and enjoyed the games.


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