The Cricket Asylum builds on decade of bringing through the next generation of cricket stars

A decade after its formation, the Cricket Asylum, in Sowerby Bridge, can look back on big achievements as well as look forward to more success in the future.

By Mark Berry
Friday, 4th February 2022, 9:50 am
The Cricket Asylum has provided coaching sessions to thousands of primary school children.
The Cricket Asylum has provided coaching sessions to thousands of primary school children.

Managing Director Chris Berry founded the Cricket Asylum following his move from London, converting derelict space in an old mill and installing state-of-the-art PitchVision technology into the fabric of the building as he did so.

Berry teamed-up with cricket coach Matt Dawson and invited local clubs to use the facilities.

Take up was slow at first but thanks to the support of local cricket leagues, particularly the Halifax Junior Cricket League, the Cricket Asylum began to flourish, helping players to reach their potential.

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Indian star Prithvi Shaw is among those who have visited the Cricket Asylum.

Today, people travel from across the country for the Cricket Asylum’s year-round programme of indoor and outdoor courses and specialist coaching.

The Ultimate Academy, established in 2012, is a high level programme designed to bring through the best local talent under the watchful eye of international coaches such as Craig White, Stuart Law, Steve Oldham, John Abrahams and Chris Schofield.

With strength and conditioning coaches and sessions on growth mindset, resources that had before only been accessible to the professionals at county ground training centres was now available to local youngsters.

The Ultimate Academy honours board has had 66 names representing their counties and three Cricket Asylum alumni, Ben Cliff (England), Will Luxton (England) and Dan Stevens (Scotland) are currently in the Caribbean representing their countries in the U19s World Cup.

Junior cricketers have enjoyed tailored coaching sessions.

In 2014, the Cricket Asylum Foundation was set-up and it received charitable status two years later.

The charity has raised tens of thousands of pounds, which has all gone back into the game, offering financial support to youngsters from deprived backgrounds through the Manchester

Money Scholarship Fund and helping them level the playing field and compete with their peers.

Thousands of local primary school children and a variety of community groups have also benefited in receiving professional coaching from the Foundation’s team.

The Cricket Asylum has helped to put indoor cricket back on the map in the north.

Furthermore, the Cricket Asylum has offered players the opportunity to play abroad and since 2018, players have toured India, Barbados and Spain.

They have played in international stadiums such as the Kensington Oval in Barbados and received coaching from legends of the game including Desmond Haynes and Dilip Vengsarkar.

In return, the Cricket Asylum has hosted tours and offered overseas touring sides the chance to play against juniors from Halifax League clubs.

The Cricket Asylum has worked with the Halifax Cricket League to develop women’s and girls’ cricket with dedicated sessions and tournaments, supported clubs through the School 2 Club project that promotes participation via primary school taster sessions and marketing of the grassroots game.

It has also helped to put indoor cricket back on the map in the north, hosting tournaments for U11s all the way through to over-40s, and the Cricket Asylum’s new indoor cricket representative team were crowned national champions at U11s level after a successful tournament in Birmingham.

Matt Dawson said: “It’s an honour to be part of the Cricket Asylum and see the achievements of both the business and the foundation over the years, but it’s even more satisfying seeing the development, enjoyment and achievement of all the players that we work with.”

Phil Sharples Chairman of the Halifax Junior Cricket League, said: “The Cricket Asylum and its staff should be immensely proud of the work they have done over the last 10 years.

“Their facility and coaching education has not only enabled the Halifax Junior Cricket League to revolutionise the way it manages its elite coaching at representative level but also in providing opportunities for those young and old to improve their skill sets and ability in a safe, encouraging and family environment.

“Their work alongside the Cricket Asylum Foundation has already helped those disadvantaged to access cricket affordably or free of charge and their future plans around getting junior cricket back into HX1 are going to be a pivotal initiative in supporting young people back to the sport.”