A recent survey has revealed that all is not well in the UK’s primary schools when it comes to acting fairly in sport. 1,002 children aged between eight and 16 in state schools were questioned about their experiences on the sporting field of play. 40% say that they had been victim of a professional foul, 32% admitted having seen people time-wasting, whereas 24% had witnessed other players diving. More worryingly, 37% of children believed that their team mates would not care if they secured victory through cheating. Indeed, 16% of the respondents thought that their team mates would feel guilty if they secured a win by cheating.

None of this sounds like proper cricket actions, which is why the game has taken steps to ensure that children are fully educated about the rules of fair play. The MCC is joining forces with cricket charity Chance to Shine in an attempt to teach kids about the value of sportsmanship. A series of assemblies and lessons around the country is expected to reach over 400,000 children. As one of the top cricket shop stores on the Internet, we are well aware of the importance of teaching children good habits at an early stage. Captain of England’s Women’s cricket team Charlotte Edwards, spoke out and said that professional sportsmen and women have a responsibility to play fairly.

“We’re not saying we don’t want the children to go out there and win, we do, but there’s a line and we need to stick to that. We have such a huge responsibility and in cricket we have some great role models – I’m sure we play in the right way. You can’t condone cheating, and hopefully cricket is leading the way – and will continue to do so. It’s all about respecting the umpires, your opponents and your team-mates.”

The survey findings also revealed that almost nine in 10 (87.5%) children say they have felt under pressure to win when they play sport, with around one in eight (12.9%) of these admitting they feel this pressure all the time. Almost half (46.9%) say they feel this pressure from other children, including team-mates, while others say they feel it from teachers (11.9%), coaches (10.1%) and their parents (6.7%). Just over one in five (21.9%) say they put pressure on themselves.

It is refreshing to see cricket take the lead in the battle to install good values in our youngsters. Thousands of kids require cricket clothing and junior cricket bats at the beginning of the cricket season, and it is important that they start playing the game in the right spirit. Wasim Khan explained that Chance to Shine teaches children the importance of playing sport competitively and fairly whilst respecting the rules and the opposition. These are skills which can be transferred into other areas of life, which is one of the reasons why the notion of fair play should be instilled at an early age. The future of British sport is bright if cricket has anything to do with it.