Gallery: Essex star Napier is smash hit at Ilott's cricket camp

PUBLISHED: 12:41 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:07 26 October 2009

Youngsters at the cricket camp with Mark Ilott and Graham Napier

Youngsters at the cricket camp with Mark Ilott and Graham Napier

ESSEX cricketer and Twenty20 star Graham Napier was on hand to give some expert tuition at the Mark Ilott cricket camp last week. Napier made an appearance at Old Owens Cricket Club where Ilott and his team of coaches were putting the youngsters through

Graham Napier batting with Mark Ilott behind the stumps

ESSEX cricketer and Twenty20 star Graham Napier was on hand to give some expert tuition at the Mark Ilott cricket camp last week.

Napier made an appearance at Old Owens' Cricket Club where Ilott and his team of coaches were putting the youngsters through their paces.

The batsman holds the world record for hitting the most number of sixes in a domestic one-day innings.

He smashed 16 for Essex against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup earlier this year.

Speaking afterwards, the 28-year-old Essex slogger said: "I really enjoyed it, and it's nice to be able to help out at something like this.

"It's vital that attention is paid to grassroots cricket, and it's fantastic to see the kids having such a great time.

"I have never known so many kids who are getting involved with the sport, especially over the last two to three years, and it's great that cricket can reach out and be enjoyed by so many.

"The enthusiasm shown by these kids today was amazing, and I am delighted to help out at Mark's (Ilott's) event."

Turnout at this year's coaching courses have been particularly pleasing, and the appearance of big-hitter Napier added to the excitement and professionalism that the event thrives upon.

The youngsters took part in a "get Graham Napier out" mini-game, where the Essex star faced bowling from the children, and gave them some tasty shots to try and catch him out.

With Mark Ilott playing as wicketkeeper, along with the constant encouragement from the coaches on the day, it was a superb spectacle for anyone interested in grassroots level cricket.

Robert Kraushar, 11, who had travelled from Barnet to attend the camp, said: "I have been twice before, and really enjoy it.

"The best thing for me is the matches, but it's also great to see your friends.

"Mark (Ilott) is really good, and I think I have improved my batting this week."

And 12-year-old Rifat Alam was equally as pleased at having joined up with the coaching masterclass.

The Chancellor's School pupil said: "It's my first time here and I think it's really great.

"The best thing for me has being getting better at my game, and meeting Graham Napier.

"I will definitely be hoping to come back next year, and think this is a great way of playing sport and keeping fit."

Graham then took part in an interesting question and answer session with the kids, showing how determined he is to help develop the learning of the game.

After answering some challenging and well-educated questioning, Napier revealed how close he was to becoming a professional footballer.

"I used to play for Ipswich Town in the youth sides, but at the age of 14 or 15 I decided to choose to go into professional cricket."

And Essex will no doubt be delighted with that decision all those years ago having scored nearly 3,000 runs at first-class level since making his debut against Cambridge University in 1997.

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