In case you missed it, Cricket Australia have announced sweeping changes to the structure of junior cricket games.
In plain terms this means up to Under 15’s:-
- reduced team sizes;
- reduced pitch lengths;
- reduced overs;
- reduced field sizes; and
- reduced ball size.
With the key objective of reducing the length of junior games to no more than two hours play on any day.
Before voicing an opinion, let me preface this by saying I am currently a junior coach with almost ten years experience over all the different age groups across three different decades.
I am also currently the junior secretary of my club so have an inside view of the issues facing cricket administrators.
Quite frankly, these rule changes, apart from the changes below Under 12’s are a joke
The only logical conclusion for them is that they only want to teach kids the skills of T20 cricket these days.
Test cricket is in real trouble.
There are a number of issues with this, for example:-
- How will kids learn to build an innings, bowl the right length or flight the ball if they are a spin bowler?;
- Kids that play juniors and seniors, particularly senior comps that are on turf, will be so confused as they switch back and forth between a shorter and normal pitch and synthetic where most junior games are played and turf.
- Small grounds, fewer fielders and less time to bat will result in batsman coming through that can only slog and have no ability to hang in through the tough times.
You only need to look at the current struggles of our test team to know that all of these skills are already slipping.
Cricket Australia say they will increase participation rates, I argue that it will have the opposite effect.
It’s already hard enough for some clubs to fill teams on a Saturday morning thanks to kids wanting to play basketball. These changes will just push more and more kids down that path.
From an administrative point of view, this can only place further pressure on clubs that are struggling to field teams. Reduced team sizes means more teams which means more coaches, more team managers and more parental help.
In a world where finding volunteers gets harder by the year, this will be so difficult.
Then there’s the extra grounds that are needed. Playing double headers is not an option.
Cricket Australia are clearly out of touch with the real world, and are pushing the game towards the largely soulless cash cow that is T20.
At the expense of test cricket?
Are any other countries around the world making these changes? I highly doubt it.
As I sat in the boardroom of my employer today, a prominent Cricket Australia sponsor, I noticed a picture of a cricket match.
It was a full house on Boxing Day for test cricket at the MCG.
Please don’t kill it Cricket Australia.