MUCH as it pains me to say it, cricket in this country does have an image problem.

Long, boring, slow - no, not last night's election coverage, but the words I hear uttered on a regular basis to describe our summer sport.

The ECB are doing their best to arrest the waning interest. Their latest innovation, All Stars Cricket, is aimed at five to eight year olds with a view to getting them keen while they're young. They're provided with coloured kit, ruck sack, bat, water bottle and all sorts of other bits and bobs.

Let's face it, what's not to like about holding a bat and whacking a ball at that age? Not to mention the development of hand-eye coordination, cardiovascular exercise (when they run), decision-making (do I run or don't I, do I whack it or defend it?) and team work.

Even better - there are several different "disciplines" within the same sport. If you can't bat, you may be able to bowl - and vice versa. And all children love chasing and catching a ball (fielding) don't they? Or is that just Labradors?

Colour clothing, white balls, music when a batsman gets in or gets out, no-balls, leg-side wides, silly mid-off, backward square leg on the 45, lofted cover drives, late cuts, dab sweeps - cricket and all its bonkers-ness has got it all.

But it needs demystifying. I would argue that to really enjoy cricket, you need to understand the finer points. The nuances that other sports can't boast.

For example, what is the pitch like - is it "doing a bit" or is it a road? Is it a bit two-paced - sitting in the wicket - or is it coming through nicely?

Is the bowler spinning/swinging/seaming it - is he/she finding a good length or is he/she serving up buffet bowling, enabling the batsmen to "help themselves"?

Does the batsman have a favourite scoring shot and if so, does the fielding team block it off, or does the bowler employ a different delivery to stop the batsman in his tracks?

If you have become bored/irritated/lost by my last five paragraphs, I can only apologise.

A five year old is not going to have any interest or understanding of reverse swing or a forward defensive, but that is what makes the sport so multi-layered.

It is the gift that keeps on giving. Learn the basics, then learn a bit more. And a bit more after that.

Twenty-five years after I first stepped on to a cricket field, the eccentricities of the players, the different and varied grounds and the unpredictability of the game never fails to amaze and excite me.

I wasn't fortunate enough to be introduced to cricket at the age of five. If I had been, who knows, I may have been a contender.