THE first season of South Loughton Cricket Club’s pioneering disability cricket programme ended with an tournament between Essex, Middlesex and Surrey held at the club’s Roding Road ground.

South Loughton has become the base for disability cricket in Essex under a partnership with the charity Cricket4Change (formerly the London Community Cricket Association).

This covers learning disability cricket as well as the more established blind cricket.

The programme - entitled 'Hit the Top' - involves coaching in schools and a schools tournament, held in July, which was won by Endeavour School from Brentwood, while the county teams are using the club’s facilities for training sessions and matches.

A club team has also played a Sunday afternoon friendly match against the Essex Learning Disability XI.

“We have been involved with blind cricket for many years so the chance to take responsibility for a wider range of disability cricket was a logical progression,” explained club chairman Andrew Shields.

“The level of interest and enthusiasm is clear to see, and many of the children will be joining in the club's mainstream junior coaching and matchplay programme in 2009.”

The recent tournament consisted of a round-robin series of eight-a-side matches and was won convincingly by Surrey, whose side included members of the England Learning and Physical Disability squads, while the Essex squad showed plenty of potential for the future.

For more information about ‘Hit the Top’ or the club, contact Andrew Shields on 020 8530 2200 or visit southloughton.org.uk