Former England captain Alastair Cook believes this will be the summer of love when it comes to children and cricket.
All across the UK, activities are opening up for youngsters to play the game and develop their skills in a sport forced to mostly slumber through 2020 in the early months of lockdown.
But with Covid restrictions now eased, especially for under-18s, cricket is looking to make up for lost time with programmes across the country aimed at unlocking the thrill of bat and ball.
In Wales, 4,000 children are already being introduced to the game this summer through All Stars, the scheme aimed at fun for five to eight-year-olds. A further 2,000 are building on core skills through Dynamos, the programme for eight to 11-year-olds that had to be shelved last summer.
“This summer is a fantastic opportunity for the sport to enable children to experience the thrill and the fun of playing cricket,” says Cook, who took part in National Cricket Week in June.
“Ove the years, Chance to Shine has been a fantastic charity in getting cricket back into state schools and giving kids the opportunity to experience cricket.
“Now, there are other programmes going on to get kids into cricket, or re-introduce them to it after all the Covid problems. They’re learning togetherness and they’re learning to fall in love with cricket.”
In All Stars, every child who registers gets a backpack, cricket bat and ball as well as well as a personalised T-shirt.
The older Dynamos get in on the same action with T-shirts, but they also get involved with matches as well as skills and they can engage with an app linked to their sessions.
Volunteers – known as activators – are now running All Stars and Dynamos sessions at cricket venues across Wales, mostly in midweek in the early evenings.
At Pontardawe Cricket Club in the Swansea Valley, they are running both schemes with 14 youngsters taking part in All Stars and 27 more in Dynamos.
Both girls and boys are involved in both groups, with girls making up slightly less than half the total numbers.
Not only do the programmes help introduce cricket to the next generation, but like other clubs, Pontardawe are using the influx of potential new members as an opportunity to re-energise their club with new faces and their family members.
Club chairman Rob Pick says: “Pontardawe have fallen down the leagues in recent years and we’d like to build up again. This has given us some impetus to that aim.
“We want to enter the junior league next season, so this has been a big driver for that aim.
“We started All-Stars the year before Covid hit and that was a brilliant first year. The youngsters really enjoyed it.
“Last year was wiped out, but we’ve come back again this year and it’s been really good. Both children and parents have been really enthusiastic. Everyone has got used to the Covid routines and you don’t really notice it after a while.”