Robbie Book, chairman of the Club Cricket Conference, urges grassroots clubs to drop the attitude that income is everything and embrace the chance to grow the game on the back of England’s Cricket World Cup win.
Cricket needs to capitalise on the phenomenon of last season’s Cricket World Cup and subsequent Ashes series, but whose responsibility is it to ensure that the legacy of a wonderful summer benefits the game long-term?
I would venture a suggestion that as much as the legacy question is a challenge for the ECB, it is actually the responsibility of grassroots cricket clubs and amateur and recreational cricket organisations. They must ensure that the youngsters and parents who have been awakened to the charms and challenges of cricket can be given practical outlets for this enthusiasm to be channelled. And I’m not forgetting the older army of cricketers who have been reminded of their past successes and failures.
At the end of the World Cup Final, my grandson Joshua (a cricket nut) was told by my son (a club cricketer of some renown) that he had probably seen the best game of cricket that he would ever see. I was inclined to agree. Somewhat perturbed that, at his tender age, this might be the truth, Joshua dolefully replied: “But I’m only eight!”
Fast forward to Headingley and I was delighted to receive a call from him after England’s sensational one-wicket win with a triumphant “see!” There is more to this than meets the expectations now. How do we move this forward? I have no idea how The Hundred will help next year, but I do know that the infrastructure of club cricket has the capacity to engage with their local area.
“Preparing a cricket pitch must be up there with managing the installation of an iPhone update as one of the most drawn-out, effort-intensive activities in modern life.”@Ed_Wisden has his say in the latest instalment of The Pitch. #clubcrickethttps://t.co/xPhWme3r2k
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 6, 2019
Across the country there are established cricket clubs needing the injection of youth and the enthusiasm of volunteers and parents. I would like to think that the Club Cricket Conference, positioned at the organisational end of amateur cricket, should be able to harness club administrators to reach out to their local communities and schools to encourage them to become part of what a cricket club should be – the centre of that community.
I am well aware that clubs need to be sustainable in their own right. But now is the time to open the doors of the club, at the lowest possible entry cost, to anyone wanting to join and become a future part of the outstanding volunteer army which keeps club cricket alive in this difficult financial climate.
We, as clubs, must throw away the attitude that income is the overriding factor. We need to be the easiest place in the locality to meet new friends and ensure that our children are in an environment which is sporty and safe. We must use all the local neighbourhood social media facilities available for the purpose of promoting this message.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 7, 2019
Clubs should run open days at the beginning of the season for local schools, offering free coaching sessions, with social evenings for parents to ask what we can do for them. Our offerings are important, but they must match the expectations of the parents.
My contention is that club cricket needs to take the bull by the horns now. The National Cricket Conference and its constituents, as well as The Club Cricket Charity, are available for consultation on both strategy and tactics for cricket organisations across the country.
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