Fighting for new blood – Inner-city cricket: the state of play

Fighting for new blood – Inner-city cricket: the state of play

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To fight for the attention of the sporting public in a crowded market, cricket is trying to evolve With participation dwindling too,
the ECB has put in place several projects such as All Stars Cricket for five-to-eight-year-olds,
a women’s Soft Ball Festival and a new city-based tournament scheduled for 2020
to address those slumps. While its mooted format is controversial,
its need is clear. It think it adds an extra T20. T20 is where the game is going, for sure, in all aspects of the game. Inspired by England’s World Cup win last year and the success of the Kia Super League, women’s cricket has seen a dramatic upturn. You know, it was just Mum sat on the sidelines cheering them on and now he gets the opportunity to to come and watch us play, which is great. As the men’s game looks for a boost, regions such as Wales need to embrace change while staying true to their identity. Here we are in Newport to gauge the state
of club cricket in Wales. Mike, hi. Vish from the Guardian.
Hello Vish, how do you do? Very well, very well. Thank you for having
us at Newport Cricket Club. Mower’s going, gorgeous day out. What have you got going
on? Well, it’s a very busy club. We’ve got matches
most evenings and most weekends, or training. And how many teams do you have on a weekend? We’ve got four senior Saturday teams: men’s
teams and then we’ve also got a women’s team which play matches on Sundays and 11 Junior
teams, boys and girls. So cricket here’s in a very healthy place? We’re fortunate. We do a lot of work with
with the Junior section. We’ve got a very strong club with a good structure. Cricket,
generally, I think is suffering. There are lots of clubs finding it difficult: player
availability seems to be a problem week in, week out. There’s very little cricket going
on in schools. Generating players for the future is probably going to be the biggest
issue for cricket in Wales Mark Wallace made 264 first-class appearances for Glamorgan over 18 years at the club Since retiring, he’s started playing
club cricket for Newport. Is there a
worry that the next generation aren’t really coming through, outside this club? We’re hooking them at a young enough age.
Can we make sure that when it gets that decision time at 14 or 15 when there’s all manner of
different things to take your time, do they still want to play cricket? I think at this
club, they do. I think at other clubs maybe it’s a bit more difficult You know, with Scotland being England and
Ireland getting Test status, Wales having a national cricket team – do you think that
would make any difference at all? I think it would cause some interest but I
think at the moment Glamorgan does that job. I think to the real outsider having a Wales
national team and an identity might work in a way but I think if we do a good enough job
in club cricket and junior cricket low enough down, you know from an early age that Glamorgan’s
your national team. If you could change one thing for the better
in the whole setup, what would it be? A trophy would be great for Glamorgan. They’ve
got a really good twenty20 side this year. I think if they can get that trophy – they
got a final’s day last year – that would have a real benefit, that would really push somebody.
I think a Welsh player playing for England would be fantastic. We’ve got a few guys who
have got potential to do it. If they can put some performances behind it, having a Welsh
player, à la a Simon Jones, playing on the national team would be fantastic. Twenty20 has reengaged cricket globally, but despite being invented in England, the ECB have failed to harness the format to the degree that India and Australia have. To make amends, a franchise competition will be starting in 2020, based around eight cities rather than eighteen counties, with games broadcast live on free-to-air TV. This city-based tournament, or whatever it’s
going to be, in 2020: what kind of impact do you think that will have given that Cardiff
are hosting a side? It’s great to have a franchise based in Cardiff.
I think the opportunity that we’ve got with this new competition is vast, and it doesn’t
really matter whether it’s 20 overs, 30 overs 100 balls, whatever it ends up looking like:
the opportunity to hook people into new teams, best playing against best, seeing some of
the some world-class players play on our doorsteps is really fantastic. It’s going to have huge
coverage – we’re not exactly sure what it’s going to look like yet, but I’m sure have
a big marketing arm behind it – and the more people we can drag in for their first taste
of cricket walking away thinking this game’s brilliant: if we can do that with that competition
it’d be great. We’re really really excited to have that in
Wales coming in 2020 and of course bringing big crowds to the stadium like today in the
England v India game. We’re really set up for that but we know that we need to attract a
wider audience in the future and keep striving to get as many different people from different
communities as we can to come to our big games here in Cardiff. With regard to minority groups how do you
fare in terms of getting the Welsh public to a game? What is the affection that they
have towards cricket and how would that change with 100? Well, we’ve got quite a competitive environment
here in Cardiff because rugby and football are both pretty big and both sports are doing
very well in different respects, and we’ve got a lot of big sports stadia here in Cardiff
so it’s a competitive field, but we know that when Glamorgan are playing well, when there
are big games on, people want to come here to watch the big-time cricket. So we hope
that however that will look like in two years time, that our version of the Indian Premier
League and the Big Bash will be even better than those two and will be a very attractive
prospect for people to travel to come and watch. Last year, the ECB introduced the Soft Ball
Festival which looks to engage new and lapsed female cricketers with a softer ball along
with fewer and less complicated laws. I went to an understanding school and used
to play when I was in primary school with the boys and then I kind of didn’t carry on
really when I left school and now I’ve come back to it which is really nice because everybody
just gets on and it’s a great way to socialise and meet new people
as well. The fact that women being able to play sport a bit more (means) it’s getting
more recognition. For me, when I was at primary school and played, it was playing with the
boys, but then there wasn’t really any teams out there for women as you are getting
older and stuff, and you just lose interest as well. I suppose life takes over. Some of the girls who have played this season
have never played cricket before, ever. And now we’re a real good team. We all get,
on we all know what we’re doing and it’s just a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It’s
so encouraging for all of us girls. What would you do otherwise if you weren’t
here on a Sunday. Maybe watching my children play. Yeah, apart from that, probably not a lot – cooking and cleaning! Do you think then you might get to get to
stage where you feel like playing hard-ball cricket? I have played hard-ball before, and I think
we would give it a go. These things are quite good for building up
that confidence. Yeah, definitely. It’s a good first step. The gateway drug into cricket.. It’s about building a team up as well. Yeah, we’ve got a great bunch of ladies. I think that’s why I actually came in the first place
– it wasn’t just to play the cricket, it was actually just to meet new people. Yeah, there’s a bit of camaraderie here. It’s a great pitch to be able to play on as
well. How have you done today? We’ve won both matches we’ve played. We’ve won the two we’ve played, and then we’ve
just got this one to go. Nice, El! Get round quick! Lovely. Would you like it to be more competitive? It’s quite nice just like in the summer though,
just to have a chill. Is this the start of something quite long?
Do you think you can play in – in ten years time you’ll still be playing? Yeah, hopefully. We’ll see how it is. Hopefully
someone will continue to run it and then we’ll continue to play. Maybe we can run when we’re
older.

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