As this season’s new NatWest T20 Blast campaign gets underway, Leicestershire Foxes Captain Mark Cosgrove is backing a new ECB campaign to get more teenagers playing the T20 format at grassroots level.

Seventeen clubs in Leicestershire have already signed up to the first national NatWest Club T20 for Under-19s competition, with more than 475 teams set to be involved across the country.

The national roll-out of the competition follows a successful ECB pilot project last summer involving four counties (Kent, Surrey, Yorkshire and Durham) which attracted nearly 60 clubs.

The pilot project attracted positive feedback from clubs with one in three seeing lapsed players returning and more than half the players involved saying they were more likely to play club cricket this season as a result.

Cosgrove said: “It’s so important that we build on the success of NatWest T20 Blast by inspiring more youngsters to take up cricket. A competition like this gives teenagers a fantastic opportunity to emulate the professional game – and get as much fun out of the T20 format as we do.”

Gordon Hollins, Chief Operating Officer at the ECB added: “This competition is all part of a wider ECB initiative to encourage greater grassroots participation and address player ‘drop-off’ in the 16-19 age-range as teenagers find work or move into higher education.

“Last year’s pilot project was a great success and showed that there’s a real appetite in junior cricket for a dynamic, fast-paced form508193405LG00034_ECB_U19_s_at which mirrors our own county game – and also allows club sides to replicate the NatWest T20 Blast competition in full – with coloured clothes, team nicknames and music all part of their match-day experience.”

Bexley Rangers were crowned the inaugural champions of the 2014 competition last  September, beating Tudhoe of Durham in the semi-final then Surrey’s Sunbury Chieftains in the final at Grace Road. Former Leicestershire seamer Stuart Broad conducted the presentation at the end of an enjoyable day.

This year’s competition will run across the country from May to August from Cornwall to Cumbria climaxing with around 30 county finals days in September.

Clubs will again be supported by the Play-Cricket.com website, providing players with statistics, fixtures and results. For more information go to www.ecb.co.uk/U19T20  or use #U19T20 on Twitter.

The teams registered in Leicestershire are:

U19 T20 Team Name Club
Soar Valley Strollers Soar Valley Strollers CC
Enderby Bees Enderby CC
Sileby Vikings Sileby Town CC
Hinckley Hammers Hinckley Amateur CC
Ketton Colts Ketton CC
Cosby Chargers Cosby CC
Houghton & Thurnby Hurricanes Houghton & Thurnby CC
Barrow Dinos Barrow Town
Newbold Dragons Newbold Verdon CC
Long Whatton Falcons Long Whatton CC
Lutterworth Lions Lutterworth CC
Kegworth Jets Kegworth Town CC
Loughborough Cobras Loughborough Town CC
Ashby Strikers Ashby Hastings CC
Loughborough Fury L’boro Uni Staff CC
Rhinos Hinckley Town/ CCA