Helping primary students engage with the key stage 2 citizenship curriculum can be challenging. One tactic is to use sport as a vehicle for understanding rules and fairness. This example looks at cricket

Like any other international sport, cricket is full of the sort of controversies and drama that can bring a subject like citizenship to life.

Whether examining social and moral responsibilities, facilitating community involvement or developing political literacy, cricket can add contemporary relevance and link abstract concepts to high profile events and real life situations.

The following activity ideas will help children access one particular area of the Key Stage 2 citizenship curriculum – rules and fairness.

Activity 1: rules and advantages
Although regarded as one of the current greats, controversy continues to surround Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan. The laws of cricket state that a bowler may not bend and then straighten their arm (i.e. throw) more than 15 degrees when bowling, as to do so would allow the bowler to impart more speed or, in ‘Murali’s’ case, spin on the ball. Over the years, several umpires have accused Muralitharan of ‘throwing’ – particularly when bowling his doosra (Urdu word meaning ‘the other one’) – a ball that spins away from a right handed batsman. In his defence, Muralitharan has always claimed that a physical deformity prevents him from being able to straighten his right arm. Some commentators believe that the recent changes in the throwing law to allow a greater degree of bend have actually been introduced to accommodate Muralitharan. Others claim that scientific research had apparently shown that it is physically impossible for a person not to bend their arm to some extent when releasing the ball.

  • In pairs throw a ball back and forth. Which method – underarm, overarm/straight, or overarm/bent allows the most speed and spin to be imparted on the ball?
  • It’s a three-a-side striking and fielding game – batting team versus bowling team – three turns per player, highest score wins. The bowler can throw the ball overarm/bent arm to their opponent. What are the results of this on the relationship between batter and bowler and on the game? Who gets the advantage? If necessary, come up with a new rule to level the playing field.
  • What would happen if there were no rules in this game? If each player could do whatever they chose? Or if the sides were uneven in terms of numbers? In what situation might it be fair to have uneven numbers?
  • Are there any ways in which the game if played as ‘two against three’ or ‘three against four’ can
  • be modified to make it fair?
  • Should rules – like the handicap system in golf – be introduced to help a person of less ability compete on a par with a more talented player?
  • Design your own three-a-side striking and fielding game. Explain the rules and why they make the game fair.

Activity 2: Picking a teamRules can sometimes – either deliberately or inadvertently – discriminate against certain people.

Prior to the break up of apartheid, South Africa – who tour England this summer – did not permit non-whites into its sports teams. Now the team is multiracial. In fact a quota system exists to prevent an all-white South African cricket team from being selected. There must be a certain number of non-white players in every South African cricket team.

Is this fair? Should the team be picked on merit? Or are quotas necessary to make allowances for those people who may not have had the same life chances to compete? England star Kevin Pietersen was born and raised in South Africa. In his formative years he felt the quota system unfairly prejudiced his chances of playing provincial cricket and so decided to move to England to continue his career.

How should teams be picked at school?

  • Design a way of organising groups/teams in PE lessons. Will the nature of the group depend on the activity and its purpose?
  • What effect will the method of selection have on the individuals and the eventual teams? E.g. if the weakest player is chosen last but still has to play will this person lose confidence, underperform and as a result inhibit their team’s performance?
  • South African government would argue that having teams more representative of their new nation is more important than having the strongest team on the field. If sport in schools is about encouraging everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle, should selection processes in games lessons/for school teams take this into account – or should they just be done on merit? Is it right that the best 10 or so sports players should represent the school at everything?
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