@Harry_Wisden 4 minute read
Cricket clubs must have junior representation on their committee if they are to build for the future, writes Harpenden CC’s Harry Josephs.
The problem of teenagers dropping out of the game between junior and senior cricket remains a critical issue. On top of midweek commitments for club and school, plus perhaps one or two training sessions a week, young club cricketers are expected to devote valuable time at weekends to playing the game.
Six or seven hours on the pitch is an awfully long time for a teenager, and many league structures, who are reluctant to introduce shorter formats, still play timed games, meaning a day’s slog may not produce a conclusive result. These pups are often used sparingly too, shoved down the order and given a couple of overs. Much of the time, the captain lacks trust in, or knows very little about, their latest recruit, who in turn becomes disillusioned with senior cricket, wonders what all his mates are up to, and questions why he’s standing in a field with a bunch of old fogies.
“It’s an ongoing battle between fault-finders and workhorses for the soul of a cricket club, all of us hamsters on the wheel.”@Rich_Wisden reports on the most common complaints in grassroots cricket which clubs consistently struggle to address. https://t.co/hBIctW8IXA
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 4, 2019
My club used Sunday cricket as a breeding ground. There were two Sunday sides: the first XI skippered by the youngest member of the Saturday first team to help develop his leadership qualities, and the Sunday second XI captained by a club stalwart passionate about nurturing younger players away from the intensity of league cricket. Youngsters were given responsibility and the freedom to grow into their games, and they soon migrated into Saturday league cricket high on confidence. Sadly, it didn’t last. Due to a lack of interest, my club axed the only remaining Sunday XI at the end of last season.
While there are many factors behind falling retention rates, my proposal to try and help counter this is that, whenever possible, clubs ensure they have at least two teenagers on the committee who are engaged in both the junior and senior game. Allow them to weigh in during the selection process by informing captains of the skillsets of their peers, and encourage them to air their views on other key topics, such as social events, ground improvements and training. It will help the committee make informed decisions that cater for a key demographic, helping to futureproof the club. If a youngster feels undervalued and disgruntled with senior cricket, they then have a peer they can speak to who can convey those concerns to the senior committee.
Clubs invest so much time, money and energy developing youngsters, only to see them fall away before they’re able to bloom into first-team regulars. We’ve spent decades blaming outside influences, but maybe our clubs aren’t doing enough to listen to their voices.
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