Just over ten years ago when it was announced that London would be the venue for the 2012 Olympics, after the initial hooping and hollering, you could sense the audible sigh go around the country. The feeling of dread. That we’d be found out – again. That London would deliver an embarrassing mess of a Games, the transport system would crumble, the weather would be rubbish and no one would bother to go and watch much either.
Look me in the metaphorical eye and tell me that London 2012 wasn’t the last time that it felt really good to be a Londoner, a Brit and a lover of all sports. From Danny Boyle’s breath-taking, awe-inspiring, funny and uniquely British opening ceremony, through three weeks of almost non-stop sunshine, precious few tube and traffic meltdowns, the spine-tingling Super Saturday and a once in a lifetime feeling of bonhomie, London rocked.
Stand on what we lovingly and grandly call the show pitch at Stoke Newington Cricket Club’s Hackney Marshes home and you can see the stadium (even hear the West Ham fans cheer on the odd occasion their team scores), the swimming pool and the velodrome. It’s an incredible reminder of the power of sport.
With tremendous support from both the ECB and Football Foundation, we are the fastest-growing, and one of the most successful cricket clubs in London, if not the UK. These two sports organisations helped fund a brand-new pavilion, new pitches and outdoor nets (the first-ever in Hackney). Since we launched the club just 20 years ago, thousands of young people have been introduced to cricket. Starting out with plastic bats and balls, many of those nippers are now turning out for our adult sides. With the support of the ECB, plus of course an incredible band of volunteers and ace professional coaches, we’re incredibly proud not only to be growing a game they call a basket-case, but also providing a sporting chance to more than 200 kids every single week of the year.
While the Hundred may not feel like everyone’s cup of tea (judging by some of the replies to our launch tweet!) – particularly those already enamoured of the greatest game on earth, let’s reserve judgment on its success or failure at least until the end of its first season. If we’d asked the great British public to vote on whether we should have hosted the Olympics and whether it would have succeeded, it’s more than likely that Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jess Ennis would never have had their day in the sun. This club for one, like a good opening batsman, will wait, watch and then attack or defend - but we can't wait for it to start!