Hit for six by warriors' cricket skills

IT may have left them stumped at first but a Midlothian cricket coach's mission to bring the game to Kenya has uncovered some unlikely talent among the Maasai warriors.

Steve Green taught a tribe of Maasai the finer points of the game during a recent trip to Africa, with the warriors swapping cricket whites for full battle dress.

The 47-year-old former captain of Penicuik Cricket Club said he had never experienced anything quite like it.

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Mr Green, who was part of a seven-strong team of coaches volunteering on behalf of charity Cricket Without Boundaries, said: "They are very good at throwing because they are born throwing spears - it sounds cheesy but they are taught how to throw from a very young age. Where they are living, there are wild animals everywhere and they are not like the wild animals over here.

"The warriors did have a bit of talent in terms of bowling, and even in the two or three hours that we were with them, they definitely improved. To us, that showed they had the latent skills which we managed to bring out through coaching.

"There is a lot of potential within them. A few were pretty good bowlers; they were very good on the front foot and had a natural eye for a ball."

The father-of-two added: "There were giraffes in the background watching us during training. Around eight to ten camels also made their way through the training session, which was slightly different to training in Scotland.

"The warriors' battle dresses were absolutely brilliant. One chap was telling me that it took him two hours to get dressed.

"Never, ever did I think that I would be coaching a group of Maasai warriors. It's one of the things that will stick with me forever."

Part of the prerequisite for taking part in the trip was that each volunteer had to raise 750.

Mr Green managed to raise more than 1000 thanks to the donations from his family, friends, colleagues and people from within the Scottish cricket fraternity.

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The Cricket Without Boundaries charity has three main goals; to spread cricket through coaching children and teaching adults how to coach, to link the sport to HIV/Aids awareness, and to bring together and empower local communities through cricket.

Mr Green, who described the experience as "life-changing", said: "I have always wanted to help others and as I am a qualified cricket coach - I am youth convener at Penicuik and head coach of the East under-15 development squad - I thought this was a great way to combine both things, so I got in touch with the charity."

Mr Green, who was the project manager for the team of coaches, spent the first week in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and the second week in the more remote area of Nanyuki.

During that time the team, which included former county professional Steve Adshead, coached a total of 1170 boys and girls, trained and assessed 46 local coaches, and visited more than 20 schools.

Mr Green, who got up close with cheetahs, elephants and rhinos during his time off, said: "This has been the most rewarding time in my life and was something that is hard to put into words. I feel very honoured to have met all the people in Kenya and they have had a lasting effect on my life."