A TEACHER who has devoted the last 40 years to championing girls’ county cricket is to retire this summer.

Andrew England has been a chemistry teacher at Roedean School in Brighton since September 1978.

He was instrumental in setting up girls’ county cricket in Sussex after arriving in the city 40 years ago.

He “fell into it” after spotting a crop of talented players at Roedean in the early 1980s and thought they should play at a higher level than school competitions.

He contacted Sussex County Cricket Club and found there was no team for them to play for – so he took up their invitation to set up an under-19s team.

As word spread and girls’ cricket grew in popularity, Andrew found himself setting up more age group teams until the thriving girls’ cricket community that exists now was established.

The 63-year said: “I was able to set up all these teams because I decided that as many schools in Sussex as possible should put forward their best players.

“I contacted every single one of the schools and before I knew it there was an U11, U13, U15, U17 as well as U19.

“The game just mushroomed.

“It went from being the odd girl playing in a boys’ team to so many talented girls playing.

“I saw the likes of Clare Connor, then captain of the U19s and more recently awarded an MBE for services to women’s cricket, Tamsyn Kelson, Caroline Atkins, Alexia Walker, Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Burton, Holly Colvin and Laura Marsh come through and it was a joy to watch the girls’ game develop.

“Soon other counties were interested in what Sussex was doing and we developed a tournament between Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Middlesex.

“Sussex U19s were getting better and better and soon I was getting involved in the England team selection and was chairman of England Junior Selection.”

With no cricketing credentials himself, just a love of the game, Andrew puts his start in girls’ cricket down to working at Roedean, which has a rich heritage in the sport.

Celebrated England opening batsman Mary Cecilia Robinson, who played numerous test matches against Australia between 1948 and 1960, was a housemistress at Roedean and imbued a love of the game into her charges.

Andrew will not only be fondly remembered for his love of cricket at Roedean but also for his ardent love of Blackpool football club, his home team.

Pupils and teachers claim they can always spot his books and folders as they are all bright orange – his beloved team’s colours.

Andrew said: “Perhaps part of the reason I came to Brighton all those years ago was because I needed to be by the sea – something I grew up with in Blackpool.

“And of course working at Roedean has meant I have wonderful views of it every day.”

But retirement is unlikely to see Andrew making excessive use of a pipe and slippers just yet.

He recently turned to politics, throwing his hat in the ring in the local elections as a Lib Dem candidate in Brighton and Hove and he and his wife Paula have three young children at home.

He said: “My wife has quite a few jobs lined up for me, I believe.”