Leyton youngsters are being bowled over by a charity cricket programme that delivers on its pledge to use the sport to turn around young lives.

Wicketz, a Lord’s Taverners project using cricket as a tool for change, launched its thriving Leyton hub in 2017 and it’s been a big hit ever since.

Norlington School for Boys pupil Muhammad Zain is one of the scheme’s most energetic participants and says it has turned him into a cricket nut.

"I love Wicketz because it’s a very good cricket club,” said the 12-year-old.

“The teachers are kind and they are willing to give up three days of the week to help us improve as players.

“It’s not just cricket, there are good facilities – they give us pads if you don’t have any so everyone can be involved.

“I love cricket. You’re always involved in the game, when you’re fielding you have to be ready and when you’re bowling you have to focus on hitting the wicket. It’s really fun.”

The programme aims to establish community cricket clubs in hard-to-reach, deprived areas where opportunities to play sport are lower than the national average.

This year has seen Wicketz go from strength to strength with projects launching in Hull and South Wales and over 117 workshops delivered nationally.

Lord's Taverners run weekly coaching sessions in 19 locations around the UK and engages over 1,700 disadvantaged young people, 69 per cent of which are from a BAME background.

Participants from all over the country descended on Derbyshire for the annual Wicketz Festival last week for three days of celebration, education and of course cricket.

The 8 to 16-year-olds had the chance to pick the brains of former England coach Peter Moores, tried their hands at boxing and took part in team building exercises delivered by the Royal Navy.

They also attended workshops educating them on a number of social issues including cyber bullying, healthy eating and identity.

Moores said: “The kids came from as far north as Glasgow and as far south as Southampton, but they are all from areas where cricket isn’t easy to play and there aren’t as many green fields as some of us know.

“We hear all the time about trying to get people involved and Lord’s Taverners do a fantastic job. The Wicketz Festival was that in action.

“They came from all over the country to a fantastic venue to get involved and have some fun. In sport, you make mates, you learn about yourself and keep fit.

“Lord’s Taverners is a special charity because it gets involved at all levels. It’s been here for a long time and they continually hold an arm out and help people from all different backgrounds.”

Wicketz is a community cricket programme delivered by the Lord’s Taverners, which targets young people primarily between the ages of 8-19 who are living in areas of deprivation with limited access to sporting opportunities and the benefits sport can bring. To find out more, visit www.lordstaverners.org/wicketz