Les Randall was ‘overwhelmed’ after his contribution to grass-roots cricket was rewarded last week.
The coach, from Paulsgrove, was hand picked by England boss Andy Flower to attend the first day of the Lord’s Test against the West Indies.
And that was not all. As part of the Sky Sports ECB coach education programme, Randall was able to take a party of 30 to the match.
Flower singled out the founder member of Portsmouth Community Cricket Club for his ‘extraordinary dedication’ to the game.
The England head coach said: ‘Les has clearly affected his community in an extremely positive way, successfully combining individual and group-coaching skills, while remaining effective in building a structure that benefits the wider social area. This shows extraordinary dedication, communication skills, resilience and success, and perhaps most important of all, his dedication to give back to others.’
Portsmouth Community had just six members when Randall set them up in 2002.
The south-coast outfit have since expanded to incorporate three adult sides, a women’s team and four colts outfits.
They were also the first club in Hampshire to integrate disability players into the club structure.
Randall also works with the England Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) squad, which sees him travel thousands of miles each year to ensure the cricketers receive the coaching support they need.
Ian Martin, national disability cricket manager at the ECB, said: ‘Les has provided the perfect environment for cricketers with disabilities to learn and – most importantly – develop both social and cricketing skills.
‘The recent success of the England MLD team in becoming Tri-Series Champions is very much down to the sessions Les delivers.’
England completed a Test victory over the West Indies on Monday – after Randall had cheered them on during the first day.
The highly-regarded coach said: ‘I was overwhelmed to be there.
‘It’s fantastic to be recognised for doing something that you love.’
For more information on the Sky Sports ECB coach education programme, visit ecb.co.uk