Gary Pike awarded at Lord's
Friday 6th October 2006

Gary Pike has received a top accolade with the award of a cricketing 'OSCA' at a special ceremony at Lord's.

It is a reward for many years devoted to the development of grassroots cricket, not just at his own club, Bootle, but throughout the Sefton area.

But typically, Pike said he was receiving the honour on behalf of everyone who has contributed to encouraging the young talent in the area.

"It's not just for me. It's for all the hard work of volunteers who have helped me over the past 5-10 years."

The NatWest-sponsored OSCA - Outstanding Service to Cricket Award - was presented for "creating sustainable partnerships with schools, voluntary organisations and the local community."

Bootle is hardly a hotbed of cricket, despite the Liverpool Competition club's domination of the top prizes for much of the last two decades, but Pike and his coaching team have seen the club's junior section take off.

"This year, we had over 150 kids involved," stated Pike. "We have partnerships with 10 primary schools and three senior and our coaches go into the schools during the summer and give youngsters cricket sessions.

"Some of those kids have been coming down to the club and it has paid off this year with 40 at under-9 level. We now have teams from under-9 to under-15 and with every age group in between."

Pike went on: "What has been so encouraging is that 18 of our under-18s either played third or second team cricket this year."

The perfect example of a young player of potential developing into a promising cricketer is Ian Cockbain junior. This season, he scored 785 runs and helped Bootle achieve the treble of Competition title, Lancashire Knockout and Littlewoods Knockout. In addition, he has played for Lancashire seconds.

"He is the benchmark for our juniors to look up to," said Pike, who played his part in the club's second team clinching their title for a sixth successive time, having also played in four championship-winning first teams.

Pike, 38, nominated for the OSCA by Paul Bryson, Merseyside Cricket Development Officer, had support from the county and national level before the England Cricket Board short listed him, and it was a case of third time lucky, after missing out the previous two years.

"Things are really thriving," Pike added. "We have had to start from scratch with not having schools around us who play cricket. But getting the facilities to coach the youngsters has really paid off."