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MCC and the BBC have announced the winners of the inaugural Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket awards.
Launched at the start of the summer in memory of CMJ – the former MCC President and BBC Test Match Special Commentator – the award winners consist of an under-13 girls cricket team from Hampshire, an inner-city state school in Bristol, and a professional cricketer from Derbyshire CCC.
As the winners of the Youth Award, members of the Alton CC under-13 girls’ team were invited by MCC to attend the Yorkshire Bank 40 Final at Lord’s, where they were interviewed by the BBC Test Match Special team during the match.
The joint MCC and BBC judging panel were impressed by their story of lending players to field for an opposition side in a league match earlier this summer. During the fixture – which they ultimately lost by 20 runs – the girls also allowed several of the opposition batsmen to bat twice.
In the Elite Award category, Derbyshire CCC captain, Wayne Madsen, demonstrated that it is possible to combine the highest level of sportsmanship with professional cricket, in a match against Yorkshire CCC on Thursday 18th July at Queen’s Park in Chesterfield. Chasing Yorkshire’s first innings total of 617, Madsen feathered a ball from bowler Steve Patterson to the wicket-keeper.
With one lone appeal coming from the Yorkshire fielders, umpire Jeff Evans gave the Derbyshire captain and in-form batsman not out, only for the Madsen to walk back to the pavilion on his own accord. Stating that it was a matter of principle, Madsen went on to score a defiant 141 in the second innings, but his side still lost by an innings and 113 runs.
Finally, the judging panel selected City Academy in Bristol as the first beneficiary of the school’s prize. The £2,000 grant will be used by City Academy, in partnership with the Gloucestershire Cricket Board, to support the enhancement of their cricket performance programme.
In particular, the proposal aims to encourage pupils from underprivileged backgrounds to stay in full-time education by offering promising young players six hours of extra-curricular cricket coaching every week, in addition to giving the students access to other professional skills aligned to sport. MCC will now look to play against City Academy in future seasons.
Commenting on the announcement of the award winners, MCC President and lifelong friend of Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Mike Griffith, said: "MCC is passionate about its role as Guardian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, and it is instances like Wayne Madsen walking when his Derbyshire side was in real trouble against Yorkshire, which set an example for everyone in the game to follow and must be encouraged.
"Deciding on the winner of the Youth Award and the school beneficiary was simultaneously challenging and heartening. We received so many wonderful examples of how the Spirit of Cricket is alive and kicking in the junior game at clubs and on school playing fields across the country.
"Congratulations to the Alton CC under-13 girls team who ultimately won the Youth Award. Their story really epitomises what the Spirit of Cricket means, and I hope that they have enjoyed their visit to Lord’s today.
"I am also delighted that City Academy in Bristol will be the first school beneficiary from the awards. Their cricket performance programme is a superb project and MCC will look to fully involve itself with the scheme in the years ahead."
BBC Cricket Correspondent and Test Match Special Commentator, Jonathan Agnew, added: "During a summer in which the spirit of the game was widely debated, Wayne Madsen gave a wonderful example of what many in the game still hold dear. Too often we are treated to negative instances, so how nice it is to celebrate and reward such a genuine act of good sportsmanship."
In judging the awards, the joint MCC and BBC panel defined the Spirit of Cricket as any instance which demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship, fair play and respect to captains, opponents, umpires and the game’s traditional values.