Are players leaving cricket?
It seems to be a widely held notion that players have started to leave league cricket.
Many deny this and some leagues aggressively defend the fact. However, nationally, there seems to be a trend away from the senior game. Too much cricket, late starts, late finishes, double headers, new family, bad weather, strange formats, lowering in standards, can't compete, seem to be some of the widely held views that are making players vote with their feet.
There has always been an issue with newlyweds or those that go off to University being retained, but it seems players of all ages are simply being put off. Our Leagues need to respond.
There will always be a place for players to attain the highest level of competitive cricket they can. Leagues are good at providing an environment where thay can test themselves and find an eventual winner after a long hard season. Sometimes its the best team that wins, sometimes its the team with the best pro or even the team with the best ground. However, there is little place it seems for those who simply want to turn up and play. This used to be the reserve of the 40 somethings, but it appears it is now across the Board. Even 3rd and 4th team cricket is restricted by rules. Second teams are playing 50 overs widespread. I saw a player walk off last week because the game was taking too long!!!
T20, contrary to logical opinion, has been around since I was a lad. It just has a profile these days. It is played widely and by all ages. However, not all leagues and clubs compete in it. Last Man Stands is a product aimed at non club cricketers who want a less formal game and yet the take up is limited. Colleges, schools, universities, play limited forms of cricket, normally traditional timed games which put people off.
Here's the crux. We need to produce a walk up and play style of match for all ages. Maybe not even a match but a space for people to hit the ball!!! Might sound a recipe for disaster for the traditionalists but people dont want to play 14 hours of cricket every weekend plus 2 hours of warm up and the same old team talks against the same old teams. Those that do fine...but the stats tell us there are many who don't!!!!!
I have long held the belief that if you play cricket on a Saturday then that is what you do. Why do I start playing well into the afternoon. I am ready to play at 11am for example. I can hear you all saying well thats alright for you because you dont work on a Saturday or are used to playing at that time. Well, if you work, dont play on a Saturday! That is my entire point, take an alternative form of the game! There are 1000s of players every week who kick their heels all morning just because we have always done that. I could be in the bar for 6 pm, or at home. I could see the kids after the game, not the next day and heaven forbid, the wife might stay and have a beer if it was earlier. I could even have a beer, see the wife and go home all before 9 o'clock...not finish at 9 o'clock. Not exactly draconian...common sense I think.
There are so many counter attractions to cricket these days that if we dont respond our whole infrastructure will slowly dissolve.