LANCASHIRE and England Ashes winning bowler Kate Cross was on hand at Canon Slade High School to launch a project to unearth and develop future stars from Bolton.
The Walshaw star was still recovering from the rigours of a gruelling tour Down Under but the 22-year-old was able to take time out to pass on her bowling and fielding skills to members of the under-15s side.
The project is being run by Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, Lancashire Cricket Board and the Bolton Borough Council.
The aim is to provide opportunities for girls through cricket coaching and a training programme in secondary schools and create a club environment within the school setting to offer sporting benefits to young girls.
They also want to increase girls’ participation in sport and improve pathways from secondary school to community sport.
As part of the initiative there will be 10 weeks of coaching at the 17 high schools across Bolton, staging two cricket festivals and four Talent ID sessions to try to find the next Kate Cross.
Speaking at the event, Kate, the daughter of ex-Bolton Wanderers striker David Cross, said: “I think we will see as women’s cricket participation increases with events like this then you will see the standards of cricket also increase.
“Hopefully it will mean it can feed into the England set-up which will improve the success of the national team.
“I played boys’ cricket up to the age of 18 and I did not have the chance that these young girls will have.
“It is a great opportunity for these girls to have this in school and I think it will pay off.
“I always associate my cricket with Bolton as the Lancashire girls used to train over near the Reebok and I think what the Lancashire Board and Jennifer Laycock (Lancashire development officer) are doing there is great for cricket.”
The Lancashire bowler added she thought there could be a brighter future with schemes like this. She said: “It is good for the girls to see that if you work hard they can achieve a lot. In the Lancashire set-up we have got a lot of young girls coming through now and that is just what we want to achieve here.”
Richard Slater, project co-ordinator at the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, said: “We are very excited about being part of this initiative.
“It is great that the football club and cricket are working together to help the young people of Bolton, especially the girls.
“We are about developing sporting opportunities in the community.”
Ann-Marie Taylor, Bolton Council sports development officer, said: “Girls’ cricket is one of Bolton’s priority sports and is one of those areas that we are looking to work on.
“We will be working with the school to get kids to play cricket.
“This new partnership will create opportunities for people to take part in a sport they would not take normally participate.”
Head of PE at Canon Slade Carol Brooking said: “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to start girls’ cricket.
“This is great for these girls to learn from Kate and it is something that I am sure they will never forget. We are delighted to have the coaching as well.”