Guest Post – Club Cricket – A Player Writes

My thanks to RPoultz of this parish who has ventured forth and offered his take on the recent Gurney/Hussain/Vaughan et al’s views on how club cricket should be played. Ross has laid out his views on the practical difficulties and re-emphasised a lot of the points Chris and I have made. He’s also brought in other angles which I, in particular, hadn’t considered. It’s a guest post, people, so keep that in mind when replying, but as always, I love reading other takes and this gives us some real food for thought. Maybe Harry will scan it and think a bit more. I doubt it, but you can but hope….

PLAYING MY PART…

This is my first post that I have written so please be gentle in the comments. However, I wanted to write this as, like many, I have been very taken aback by the recent tweets/comments of Gurney and Hussain about club cricket. I think we all know and understand that cricket is contracting due to lots of reasons which have been far better explained on the site than I can manage. The issues of free to air (cricket visibility), youth participation and retention of existing players is one that has no silver bullet. Is T20 the answer to this thought?

Firstly, I can understand the meaning behind the tweets as it is something that we have certainly discussed on those long walks round the boundary in that would a portion of the Saturday League games devoted to T20 be a viable option? I think this idea was talked about due to our side playing Premier Division cricket so half of our games start at 11 in the morning and usually finish between 7-8pm. Taking into account the game time, travel time and preparation for the game you can be out of your house from 9am to 9pm at night, if everything goes to plan. Looking at the appeal of a shortened day and more time with family etc is an appealing notion. When it was discussed though it was clear it is certainly not something that fits in with why the people, at least in the side I play, give up their Saturdays to play cricket. If this were T20 cricket, as you may imagine the bowlers were not thrilled about the possibility of a maximum of 4 overs per game and our numbers 5/6/7 batsmen looking forward to maybe up to 10 balls per game. At worst an opening bowler who bats 10/11 could bowl maybe one over, get hit for 15 runs and then not get another go. Then at the end of it you ask them for their £12 for the day and you can see how this might rankle slightly.

This sort of leads nicely into what was my immediate thought when Gurney suggested that all club cricket should be T20/The Hundred, which was who pays for it? I think this is one of the most overlooked issues with the whole idea of just playing T20 cricket. A vast majority of cricket clubs either play cricket on Council parks/pitches, and pay a fee per season to them for pitches and the preparation of them, or be fortunate enough to own their own ground but pay a groundsman to prepare and maintain their pitches and grounds. The money to pay for the grounds are accumulated through membership and match fees. So as an idea an average membership at a club could be around £100 and a match fee anywhere between £10 and £15. How could this possibly stay the same if all cricket were T20?

At cricket clubs in my area T20 games that are played at the moment range from being free to £5. If you take into account the reduced amount of cricket then both membership fees and match fees will have to come down. A player who either bats low down or bowls 1-2 overs per game probably won’t feel they are getting value for money for £15 a game. So inevitably this is going to leave a very large shortfall in finances at many, many cricket clubs. With a shortfall in finances how are clubs going to keep paying local councils/groundsmen to prepare the pitches? I honestly believe this is a much overlooked part of club cricket whenever the debate about changing to all T20 comes up. Simply without sufficient revenue clubs will not survive.

Of course there is a Vaughan route of organising BBQ’s, bouncy castles etc and making a day of it. As ever with his statements it doesn’t hold up to any sort of scrutiny. This is for any number of reasons such as who is organising these days – do clubs have an endless supply of volunteers to do this? Or that the novelty of having BBQ’s etc all the time will quickly wear off and then what? What do you do next to make the day an event? What about the weather as well? Is every week going to be 30 degrees and bathed in sunshine so all clubs can execute the Michael Vaughan endorsed cricket fetes at each ground in the country?? Very doubtful.

The weather does provide a link to my next point in that everyone says that making all cricket T20 will make the days shorter and everyone will be able to spend more time with their family, or being to go out earlier etc. Say for instance you start all T20 games at 2pm on Saturday. A good number of players will want to get there early to warm up and prepare. I don’t just see this at first team level either and have seen plenty of players do this at a 3rd/4th team level too. Plus many home sides have to put boundary ropes, markers etc. So taking this time into account you might look to get to the ground if at home around 12.30pm. Now, I have a wife and three kids and realistically there is only so much we can do in around 2 hours together in the morning. While this of course is 2 hours I wouldn’t get if we played a standard 50/50 game it still isn’t great deal of time to fit anything into. Going on previous experience of playing T20 cricket a game can last between 2 and half and 3 ours. So we are looking at finishing at 5 o’clock. I won’t lie and say that isn’t appealing because it is but then factor in getting in boundary ropes, markers and showering/changing you might be out the changing room between 6pm and 6.30pm. Again, in relation to my own circumstances, this doesn’t realistically give me a great deal of time to do anything with my family before my children’s bed times.

I guess what I am getting at is a driver behind Gurney’s tweets is that players will have more time with their families which in essence will be correct. However, having three kids you really want to spend a whole day having quality time with them rather than cramming things in either side of T20 game. The game almost gets in the way of a whole day with my family and if others feel like that then I am sure that will lead them to wonder if playing is really worthwhile? I know some of you might say well that time is better than what you will get leaving early in the morning and getting back later than 9pm. I feel like this misses the whole point and is what I disagree with about the argument it will give people more time with their families. Time isn’t the issue its quality time that matters and an extra hour here and there isn’t something to hang your hat on.

The above though is only when things run smoothly and perfectly on a hot summers day. What about rain? That obviously is going to be a factor in a lot of games during the season such as it is now. Are players looking forward to hanging around for hours waiting for the chance for a 5 over smash at 6/7 o’clock in the evening?? Lost balls will happen at plenty of grounds I am sure and how long will they take to replace?? A major driving force behind this T20 and that more people will play/stay in the game is that they won’t have to play much cricket, and will have more time to do whatever they want to on Saturdays. When you commit to playing cricket you understand the sacrifice in time it will mean and to the time spent with your family on a Saturday. If you really look at the time gained it is not a massive amount. I hope that people get into cricket because they enjoy playing it but what we are being told now is that you should enjoy playing less of it. It’s a strange new world. Again, on this issue I am only speaking as a man with a family and obviously those younger and without commitments may think differently to me.

Another aspect which is also not considered is the quality of pitches isn’t really conducive to T20 cricket. I play in a league where the quality of pitches really isn’t too bad but it is a league that is dominated by spin bowlers. A high percentage of the pitches turn very early in a game and there is no great pace in the wickets. With batsman trying to force the game in T20’s I cannot see the ECB dream of high scoring and big six hitting in league cricket coming to fruition. I think scores would be middling to low and the overall quality of cricket suffers for it.

As a cricketer I am an all-rounder who bats middle order and bowls left arm spin. When I first started out my spin bowling was helped along by some good captains who gave me a good amount of overs and helpful fields for a young spinner. I gradually got better over time due to this amount of overs I was getting each week which could range from 10-20. I am in no doubt that had I not bowled this amount of overs as a young spinner I wouldn’t have developed as a cricketer. When I first started there were many permutations that aren’t in the league now such as being able to start with the old ball in the second innings and all games being timed affairs. This is now not the case and I believe the development of younger spinners has suffered for it. Now, with Gurney’s ideals, a young spinner would be limited to 4 overs per week with a basic defensive field. Clearly this is going to lead to a shortfall in the development of skills as a spin bowler. Gurney’s defence of this appears to be that league cricket does not prepare players for 4 day cricket. Well thanks for stating the obvious. Of course it doesn’t but league cricket does assist the development of cricketers playing that standard. Over recent years players to come out of our league are Jamie Porter, Nick Browne, Dan Lawrence to name a few. So I think the league could make a claim that it is not a bad stepping stone to the professional level.

My last point, and I am sure I have missed some, that I wanted to make, is that we already have T20 cricket at club level. Indeed, when I first started playing first team cricket we had a midweek knockout competition which was 16, 8 ball overs which was a local completion and fiercely competitive. However, this has since ceased to exist and the T20 league competition that is now in place, which is played evenings/Sundays/bank holidays is, in my opinion, not very well regarded. This is due to a number of factors due to it not being regional, taking place at inconvenient times and general apathy to T20 cricket at club level and it not being taken seriously. Playing T20 solely on Saturdays would potentially solve a few of the issues but not the ultimate one is that T20 cricket isn’t that popular amongst those who play club cricket. It is still not regarded as proper cricket or equivalent to playing a full days play and earning whatever you get out of that. The players still hold a lot of respect for the challenge of a full day’s play whatever level they play and T20 cannot come close to that in what I have seen and heard from my playing colleagues, both in my team and those we play.

Lastly, I just want to share with you a personal example of why I love club cricket as it is. At my first club, which I was at for 16/17 years, I had an older mentor at the club who looked after me and helped me progress. He wasn’t the best cricketer in the world by any means. He is a back-up keeper, batted 9 usually although he occasionally opened when required and never, ever bowled. However, he more often than not made the first team at the club due to his self-sacrificing nature and willingness to help the team out by getting a TFC most weeks. However, having his experience and advice really helped me develop as a cricket and a person. Without him I doubt I would have continued in the game for as long as I have. If T20 had come in around when I first started there is no way he would have been able to pass on his knowledge to myself and others. He is a cricket purist so I doubt he would have continued to play. I am sure there is a guy like him at everyone’s club that they can relate to and can understand where I am coming from. I feel like all T20 is going to rob the younger generation of these type of experience players passing on knowledge and experience in how to play the game. Maybe, I am wrong and it doesn’t matter as everyone eventually finds their way. But it mattered and still matters to me which is why I will be always grateful to him.


My thanks to Ross for his contribution, which is as drafted (with a couple of tidied up parts). I hope this provides insight straight from someone immersed in the club game. Thanks to all the effort in putting this together, Ross. Great work.

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65 thoughts on “Guest Post – Club Cricket – A Player Writes

  1. Ab Mar 16, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    Wow, your club is crazy expensive. One club I pay for is 30 quid membership plus a five match fees, the other one is 20 pound membership plus a fiver match fees.

    I’ve played for 10 different clubs all over the UK and have never been asked for anything like 100 quid!

    You need to find a different club mate.

    Like

    • rpoultz Mar 16, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      Wow. That’s really cheap.

      I’ve been playing for 22 years and I’ve never encountered such a cheap membership. When I first started I think an adult membership was £60 at my first club.

      Like

      • Ab Mar 16, 2019 / 7:54 pm

        I guess some clubs see it as a way of keeping the riff raff out!

        Like

      • thelegglance Mar 18, 2019 / 9:38 am

        Your membership cost is more in line with what I’ve experienced too. Certainly not £30, that’s fantastically cheap.

        Like

        • AB Mar 18, 2019 / 4:20 pm

          Where there are mugs there are muggers, as the saying goes.

          Like

  2. jennyah46 Mar 16, 2019 / 5:05 pm

    I very much enjoyed your post.

    I’ve never played club cricket, but every weekend I used to watch it. To be honest if it was T/20 that was being played I would not have bothered. It’s both easy and rewarding to dip in and out of a full day’s play as it meanders along. T/20 is a completely different kettle of fish and not so appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark Mar 16, 2019 / 6:35 pm

    I still come back to the question of what is the real motivation for the professional game (players and pundits) to start interfering in club cricket? Most club players are never going to become professionals so why does the whole club game need to be reorganised?

    Pardon by cynicism, but I believe what the pros really want are punters. They want club cricketers to become fans, and therefore potential paying customers for the 20/20 and 16.4. In fact when you hear people like Shinny toy blabbering on about matches played at Wembley or The Millennium stadium in Cardiff you wonder if these people haven’t lost the plot.

    They seem almost obsessed by crowd numbers rather than the actual product itself. It’s as though they are selling an event rather than promoting a sport. And if I’m right, these same pundits couldn’t give a toss if the club game withers and dies, just as long as the players become customers, and keep the pros gainfully employed on their large Sky contracts. This is shockingly self serving, and once again shows the contempt they have for the game as a whole.

    Like

    • Tommy H Mar 16, 2019 / 10:57 pm

      I don’t think ECB give a toss if club cricket dies out. Pretty sure their vision is 8 FC and 100 teams, with a player pathway supplied solely by private schools.

      Like

      • Mark Mar 16, 2019 / 11:09 pm

        Agreed!

        Like

  4. Tim Mar 16, 2019 / 7:59 pm

    Excellent article Ross. If only the ECB Bigwigs and the Vaughanite roundheads were listening

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tommy H Mar 17, 2019 / 12:33 am

      How many of the current problems can be traced back to when ECB started poking their noses into club cricket in the 1990s with their Premier Leagues?

      Like

  5. Mark Mar 16, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    I can only imagine how expensive modern club cricket is in a world where a shitty cup of coffee in a giant cup from a USA chain will cost you £5. I wonder how long it will be before all weather synthetic pitches are suggested. If you are only playing 20/20 who needs a grass pitch and a groundsman?

    It’s interesting what you say about how you learned to bowl spin in the longer form of the game. I really don’t think all these pundits understand that skills like spin bowling or opening the batting will be lost if it’s only 20/20.

    The world they are creating may turn out to be very profitable for themselves, but it ain’t cricket. I don’t want to go to Wembley to watch a 16.4 shit show. I don’t care how many frigging bouncy castles they have or dogs on roller skates or whatever latest hair brained idea Shinny toy has. If that is what cricket will become then I don’t like cricket anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ab Mar 16, 2019 / 9:30 pm

      Because there is no place for spin bowling in T20?

      Like

  6. Miami Dad's Six Mar 16, 2019 / 9:09 pm

    This article has absolutely chimed with my experience as a club cricketer. I did feel 50 overs a side was a long old day when I was turning out with the Fourths, though. Perhaps 35-40 might have been a nice compromise in the lower divisions. Midweek 20 over stuff was competitive but often could have been played with 7 players and 4 who were only fielders-top 3 batsmen (one of which had the gloves), plus 4 bowlers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rpoultz Mar 16, 2019 / 10:28 pm

      To its credit our leagues have brought in reduced overs in both time and limited overs formats for 3rd XI’s and below after a lot of consultation. As you say it is a good compromise and think it’s been a popular move.

      Like

  7. Mark Mar 16, 2019 / 10:00 pm

    Sure, there is a place for spin bowling in 20/20, but you have to learn how to bowl it first. You won’t develop your skills just bowling 4 overs or less each game.

    Like

    • Mark Mar 16, 2019 / 10:02 pm

      Should have been in reply to AB

      Like

    • rpoultz Mar 16, 2019 / 10:32 pm

      Agreed. As a young spinner there is a lot of pressure to even get a second over sometimes and having someone come after you and go for 15 in the first over, and then get the hook, is going to be very tough. Having more overs or time to play with gives you a bigger opportunity to settle someone into a game. A longer format also gives any spinner to go through all scenarios such as attack with men round the bat to defence with boundary riders out in the last 10 overs. T20 doesn’t give any opportunity get men round the bat or to work out how to get people out who aren’t looking to attack you.

      Like

    • AB Mar 17, 2019 / 9:09 pm

      What’s the difference between bowling 12 overs across 3 games in a week vs bowling 12 overs all in a row?

      Like

      • Mark Mar 17, 2019 / 10:11 pm

        In a word…….Rhythm.

        Like

  8. Tommy H Mar 17, 2019 / 12:27 am

    Excellent piece, amongst a number on here around this subject.

    I’m really, really, struggling with the idea that to increase participation you make matches shorter so that it’s much less likely that anyone except two or three get a meaningful bat and no-one gets more than a handful of overs. And as the writer alludes to, travel time etc will be the same no matter what. Sure club cricket is having issues that need addressing but the likes of Michael Vaughan are just clueless about how to solve them.

    Like

  9. Giles Falconer (@gmf56) Mar 17, 2019 / 10:28 am

    I played cricket for more than 20 years after leaving school – at a very low level, mostly Sunday afternoons. I wasn’t very good, but gained a lot of enjoyment, made friends etc. and (because the games were not usually limited overs) became a more useful bowler through practice & experience. If all club games had been T20 I simply wouldn’t have played cricket after school; I suspect quite a few others can say the same…and some/many clubs would cease to exist.

    Like

  10. psoans Mar 17, 2019 / 8:35 pm

    Absolutely enjoyed your article and insight into the game especially the cost aspect of it. I can sympathise with club cricketers. That being said; once a person becomes professional then the sacrifices they and their family make are at a different level. On Netflix there is a documentary called Cricket Fever. It charts the Mumbai Indians during the 2018 IPL. Evin Lewis mentioned that he probably has been with his 5 month child for only two weeks totally. International cricketers must plan important events like weddings in a very short window. That is the life they have chosen.

    Like

  11. thelegglance Mar 18, 2019 / 9:42 am

    Always worth remembering when the ECB and the various pros chime in about what club cricket should be that there is no elected representation whatever on any of the ECB’s committees. On one sub-committee there is an appointed representative for recreational cricket. One. Appointed by the ECB themselves.

    The democratic deficit in cricket is in marked contrast to the two other traditional team sports in this country, rugby and football, where whatever the weaknesses in governance, those games have substantial representation going up through the levels – indeed the blocking of the sale of Wembley Stadium came about precisely because of that.

    Like

    • Mark Mar 18, 2019 / 12:42 pm

      A bunch of chancers have hijacked the game, and treat it as if they own it. As if it is their personal fiefdom to exploit and enrich themselves as they see fit.

      If the Counties weren’t so utterly useless and divided these people should have been pushed back against long ago.

      Like

  12. AB Mar 18, 2019 / 12:11 pm

    Right, lets get this straight: the idea that you can’t develop the skills you need to be a successful T20 cricketer by only playing T20 cricket is clearly absurd. Let’s knock that idea on the head right now.

    Can you develop the skills you need to be a successful long-format bowler by only playing T20s? Obviously not, but then you can’t develop into a T20 player by only playing long format games either.

    and lets be clear: at the amateur level, T20 is an incredibly inclusive format that has room for an enormous variety of skills. Fast, medium, slow bowlers, Swing and spin. Classic batsmen, nudgers and scampers, big hitters. Specialist keepers, specialist in-fielders, specialist boundary riders.

    There are so many ways to excel, to contribute, it really is a game for everyone.

    Like

    • Mark Mar 18, 2019 / 1:37 pm

      Surely you have to learn the basics of any skill before you can carry it out to a high level? You aren’t going to go from one hour basic carpentry class a week to turning out beautiful Chippendale furniture a few months later.

      Same with any skill, say painting or playing a musical instrument. Do you think the great painters learned how to use different brush strokes in five minutes, and then we’re turning out masterpieces? How many endless drawings did they make to master their art?

      When 20/20 started the players had already acquired those skills from many hours of playing the longer form of cricket. Take Rashid for example. He is regarded as a good 20/20 over bowler. But he learned those skills bowling thousands of overs in other forms of cricket.

      How many 20/20 matches would Shane Warne have needed to play if that was the only form of cricket to learn his skills from? Thousands I should think.

      While I agree with you that the ins and outs of 20/20 can be learned playing that format, you still need to learn the basics first.

      Wasn’t there an old saying…..” practice makes perfect?” You ain’t going to get much practice bowling four overs a match, especially as if you have one bad over you will be taken off. You need time, and repetition. You won’t get that just playing 20/20

      Like

      • AB Mar 18, 2019 / 2:03 pm

        “When 20/20 started the players had already acquired those skills from many hours of playing the longer form of cricket.”

        A large and growing proportion of T20 players are T20 specialists, who have played virtually nothing but T20 their entire careers.

        PS:

        “When 20/20 started”

        T20 started in the 1970s, if not earlier.

        “While I agree with you that the ins and outs of 20/20 can be learned playing that format, you still need to learn the basics first. ”

        You appear to be unaware that junior cricket is 100% T20 nowadays and has been for a decade at least. All current (non-privately-educated) players under the age of 30 will have learnt the basics by playing T20 games.

        “You ain’t going to get much practice bowling four overs a match, especially as if you have one bad over you will be taken off. You need time, and repetition. You won’t get that just playing 20/20”

        All young players are limited in the amount of overs they can bowl in a spell anyway to 5 (increasing to 6 in the late teens).

        A kid is going to get more match practice, have a better experience of cricket, and learn faster, from playing 3-4 T20 games a week, in each of which he gets both a bat and a bowl, rather than playing in a single 50 over game where he gets a handful of overs, a single bat, which might just be a couple of balls and then spends the rest of the 8 hours sitting on the boundary looking at his phone or fielding at 3rd man bored out of his mind.

        Like

        • rpoultz Mar 18, 2019 / 2:47 pm

          Junior cricket, well from when I played, has always been a mixture of 16 over terrier cricket, 20 over matches and longer form matches of 40 overs for certain cup competitions. While I agree mostly junior cricket is T20 matches to suggest that it is played like T20 match as we know it is simply not correct. Players have to retire at set scores and there aren’t fielding restrictions to name at least 2 variations. I would certainly not say that playing 20 over cricket as a junior is the same as a T20 game. By all means pick me up on they are the same amount of overs but they are completely different games.

          With regards to bowlers only being able to bowl spells that is certainly correct for fast/seam bowlers of age groups but as far as I am aware, and was the case when I played as a junior in adult cricket, slow/spin bowlers were not subject to any such restrictions. So in theory spinners can bowl a lot more overs on the reel. With regards to the restrictions its 5 overs per spell up U13, 6 overs per spell for U14/15 and then 7 overs until they reach 20 years old. From under 16 they can bowl anything up to 18 overs per day which is a healthy amount.

          ‘A kid is going to get more match practice, have a better experience of cricket, and learn faster, from playing 3-4 T20 games a week, in each of which he gets both a bat and a bowl, rather than playing in a single 50 over game where he gets a handful of overs, a single bat, which might just be a couple of balls and then spends the rest of the 8 hours sitting on the boundary looking at his phone or fielding at 3rd man bored out of his mind.’

          100% disagree with this. For one who plays 3/4 T20’s a week as a teenager? In any case its about the quality of cricket rather than the quantity for me. I don’t believe you would learn as fast playing 3/4 games a week either. With a game every other day then what would be the real consequences to getting out or bothering to enhance your game. Another match is round the corner so doesn’t really matter one way or the other. Interesting that in a longer game you’ve suggested a player will get less bowling/batting opportunities.

          Like

          • AB Mar 18, 2019 / 3:53 pm

            “While I agree mostly junior cricket is T20 matches to suggest that it is played like T20 match as we know it is simply not correct.”

            Do you actually know anything about T20 cricket other than what you’ve seen on the tv?

            “From under 16 they can bowl anything up to 18 overs per day which is a healthy amount. ”

            Given that 40 over games have restrictions of 8 overs per bowler, are you suggesting that we should encourage kids to try to play three 40 over games into a single day?

            Anyway, how is this going to help kids develop the T20 skills they will need to play the game as an adult? You don’t get to bowl long spells in T20 cricket, so you’re practicing the wrong thing entirely. You need to practice hitting a length from ball one, bowling to your field, perfectly your variations, reading the batsman’s intent, and never bowling the same bowl two balls in a row. Its a lot of fun, you should try it.

            “who plays 3/4 T20’s a week as a teenager? ”

            I did, as did most of my club mates, and most of the kids at our club do. I think you’re just a bit out of touch, pal. That’s the joy of T20 cricket – you can probably get a game every day of the week if you are really committed.

            “In any case its about the quality of cricket rather than the quantity for me” This sounds distinctly like sneering.

            “Another match is round the corner so doesn’t really matter one way or the other.”
            Maybe this is your attitude, but it certainly isn’t mine, and it isn’t the attitude of any of the kids I coach.

            Like

          • Mark Mar 18, 2019 / 5:57 pm

            “Right, lets get this straight: the idea that you can’t develop the skills you need to be a successful T20 cricketer by only playing T20 cricket is clearly absurd”

            No, it’s not absurd. You offer an opinion, and I offer a counter one, that’s all.

            “Do you actually know anything about T20 cricket other than what you’ve seen on the tv?”

            Why are you so sensitive to another opinion?

            “Given that 40 over games have restrictions of 8 overs per bowler, are you suggesting that we should encourage kids to try to play three 40 over games into a single day?”

            Now that is an ABSURD statement. Rpoultz never suggested any such thing. He said….”. From under 16 they can bowl anything up to 18 overs per day which is a healthy amount.” ANYTHING UP TO.

            You have completely misrepresented what he said, Which makes me suspicious of some of your other claims.

            “Maybe this is your attitude, but it certainly isn’t mine, and it isn’t the attitude of any of the kids I coach.”

            So now we know why you are so sensitive to another opinion…..you coach in this environment. Hmm, Hardly impartial?

            All I can say is I’m glad I played my cricket when I did. When there was a lot more time available, (A long time ago) I feel very sorry for kids if this is the environment they to have to learn in. I realise the pressures of modern life, and time shortages make this what it is, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me.

            Sounds more like square bashing than cricket.

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB Mar 18, 2019 / 6:06 pm

            Being ignorant, snobbish and misinformed is not ‘an opinion’.

            Like

          • rpoultz Mar 19, 2019 / 7:47 am

            Having read your comments AB I think its not something that we will agree on really but have given my further thoughts below.

            ‘Do you actually know anything about T20 cricket other than what you’ve seen on the tv?’ and then ‘ You need to practice hitting a length from ball one, bowling to your field, perfectly your variations, reading the batsman’s intent, and never bowling the same bowl two balls in a row. Its a lot of fun, you should try it.’

            From that, and please correct me if I am wrong, you are suggesting kids practice the same skills we see in a T20 match on TV??? In any case the point I made was that a kids 20 over match is different to a T20 match.

            ‘Given that 40 over games have restrictions of 8 overs per bowler, are you suggesting that we should encourage kids to try to play three 40 over games into a single day? ‘

            As Mark has pointed out you have completely misrepresented what I said to try and make some point. Checking back on the posts you originally brought up the ECB directives and I was just quoting the correct amounts back to you. 18 overs a day is the most an under 16 fast bowler can bowl. I would imagine like in the league structure I play in, as well as many around the country, there is a timed element or part of the season where bowlers can bowl over an allotted one fifth on the overs. If for instance an under 16 player was playing in that scenario that person could bowl a maximum of 18 overs.

            ‘I did, as did most of my club mates, and most of the kids at our club do. I think you’re just a bit out of touch, pal. That’s the joy of T20 cricket – you can probably get a game every day of the week if you are really committed.’

            I may well be out of touch but as I say I have been playing cricket since 1997 and have never heard or seen as many as 4 T20’s played per week. Obviously, I appreciate new games such as the last man stands, which strictly is not a T20, and also COMP’s like the Surrey Slam are coming into the game but these are directed at adults from what I can see.

            All I can do is speak from experience AB and that is that playing a longer form whether that be timed and/or 50 overs matches can assist you in developing as a T20 bowler, which seems to be the main point of contention here. In those matches the scenarios of run chases or bowling the death overs occur each and every week so many skills required to bowl those 4 overs in a T20 can be achieved by playing and bowling in those scenarios. What you don’t get from a T20 is how to bowl a containing spell, how to bowl aggressively with men round the bat or having to work someone out over the period of 4/5 overs. There are many scenarios that T20 will not prepare you for and I for one think it would be to the detriment of cricket if those skills were lost by simply playing T20.

            Overall, this has got away from the crux of my post is that there are a lot of different factors that bring cricket together on a Saturday. I have no issue with T20 and it’s prevalent place in cricket currently. To move to T20 or the 100 format in this country for all club cricket is a complete non-starter for me due to the first point my article – the financial impact, which would likely cause the already precarious nature of many clubs in the UK to worsen and certainly lead to fewer clubs, and with that the decline in playing numbers.

            **As an aside I want to thank people for their comments on this post. It is my first so thanks for reading.**

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB Mar 19, 2019 / 8:00 am

            Given that you clearly neither play, organise T20 cricket, nor coach and coordinate the development of junior players, perhaps you should acknowledge the limitations of your own experience, and accept corrections to your more erroneous claims with slightly better grace?

            You’re guessing at things that I have a decade or more experience of trying in real life, and sadly you’re guessing wrong. That’s the problem here.

            Like

          • rpoultz Mar 19, 2019 / 8:58 am

            From someone who has put ‘Being ignorant, snobbish and misinformed is not ‘an opinion’.’ in response to another comment to accuse me of not having grace is spectacular to be honest.

            I sincerely hope you have more understanding and flexibility in your coaching than you do in accepting other people’s ideas and opinions on this site.

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB Mar 19, 2019 / 10:29 am

            If you’re misinformed, you’re misinformed. That’s not “an opinion”, its a position of ignorance. I don’t have a “different opinion” to you, this isn’t something we can agree to disagree on.

            You (and Mark) are simply misinformed. You’re misinformed about T20 cricket, you’re misinformed about junior cricket, you’re misinformed about player development. You both keep repeating basic errors and misunderstandings. You are confusing your personal experience with the experience of all cricketers.

            This is to be expected, as clearly neither of you are involved in running and organising these activities. That’s fine – we can’t all be experts on every subject. I don’t know much about brain surgery, hence I don’t tend to argue about the subject with brain surgeons.

            But to think that your naïve guesses on these subjects are as equally valid as the explanations of someone who is involved in player development and organising both junior and adult T20 competitions is pure hubris.

            Now look, I’m happy to explain to you the reality, but both of you seem to be more interested in making pointless jibes than actually showing any interest in learning something.

            Like

          • Marek Mar 19, 2019 / 2:06 pm

            AB–your charmless, bullying arrogance rings a bell for me somewhere! I thought you were going to start a website when you left the Guardian….
            Just because you’re commenting on an article about club cricket, you don’t HAVE to sound like Harry Gurney, my dear old thing. There is a reason why a lot of club cricketers now consider him to be a complete knob….

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB Mar 19, 2019 / 2:19 pm

            There’s a certain irony in the fact that these three posts have all been in response to Harry Gurney, and his inability to comment knowledgably on club cricket, given that he doesn’t play club cricket and clearly doesn’t know much about it, and then we have this article, which commits exactly the same sin, being written by someone who clearly doesn’t play T20 and doesn’t know much about it, yet feels he has to right to wax lyrical about it anyway, and yet it gets published anyway.

            Childish ad hominem attacks won’t distract from this basic fact.

            Like

          • Mark Mar 19, 2019 / 4:04 pm

            I am extremely thankful you never coached me. If I was a 12 -13-14 year old your arrogance, and your complete hostility to any opinion other than your own would have killed any interest or enjoyment in cricket stone dead for me. And to think I would have to endure this experience up to four times a week? I would rather have gone to the dentist, or even done my maths homework instead.

            The fact that you give up your free time to coach, and encourage young kids is in your favour, and I commend your efforts. But that should not entitle you to a free pass that some how only those that coach can comment. Do you vote in elections? How can you if you are not a politician? Have you ever tried to fix your car? How can you if you are not a mechanic? You don’t have to be an expert to comment on a subject. Otherwise almost every journalist would be redundant.

            Finally, and this will be the last comment I make on this subject as I’m sure it’s boring everyone else……..I suggest you look up the dictionary definition of the word “grace.” You will find words like “Courteous, manners, politeness, civility, respect.” Perhaps you should try them sometime!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Northern Light Mar 19, 2019 / 9:46 pm

            Enlightening though this little debate has been, I tend to visit BOC because it isn’t full of the one-upmanship, jibes, snide smart-alec quips and general unpleasantness of Twitter.
            As someone who neither coaches nor plays cricket anymore, I obviously am not allowed to comment on the correctness or otherwise of everything that’s been said here. All I can observe is that, whatever one might think about the foundations of other people’s opinions, a comment such as ” You are confusing your personal experience with the experience of all cricketers.” appears to suggest that AB knows and has experience of all cricketers in the land.
            Please disagree and argue if you want to, but the nasty air of superiority, of “I know better because” and general inability to allow that sometimes you can be right without having to be unpleasant to other people while proving it is starting to cloud an interesting discussion and turning this into a thread that I expect most people will swerve from now on.
            I’ll appreciate not getting any snide responses to this post, though in all honesty I probably won’t read them anyway as it’s all got a bit “Selvey” down here.

            Liked by 2 people

        • AB Mar 19, 2019 / 10:33 pm

          Well have a word with Mark, then, because he started the personal attacks, the insults, and the shouting, not me.

          As always, I criticise the argument, never the man.

          Like

          • Northern Light Mar 19, 2019 / 10:47 pm

            Calling someone “ignorant, snobbish and ill-informed” is not criticising an argument.

            Also, “he started it” is something I hear every day from the Primary School children I work with. It’s pretty unedifying coming from an adult.

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB Mar 20, 2019 / 10:15 am

            It was some perfectly valid criticism, expressed as politely and constructively as possible, that was arrogantly dismissed as invalid/irrelevant.

            “to suggest that it is played like T20 match as we know it is simply not correct”

            “as we know it”? IS RPoultz the sole arbiter of how T20 cricket is played? Arrogant and misinformed.

            “By all means pick me up on they are the same amount of overs but they are completely different games.”

            Simultaneously patronising and misinformed.

            “who plays 3/4 T20’s a week as a teenager?”

            Arrogant and dismissive. Lots of teenagers play 3/4 T20 games a week. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have said it, would I. Just because RPoultz didn’t doesn’t mean that other players didn’t and don’t.

            “Another match is round the corner so doesn’t really matter one way or the other”

            Another arrogant comment, assuming that all other young players have the same poor attitude that he describes here. This is simply an unacceptable character assassination of UK teenagers.

            “Why are you so sensitive to another opinion? ”

            Starting to get personal now. Unacceptable.

            “Now that is an ABSURD statement. Rpoultz never suggested any such thing. He said….”. From under 16 they can bowl anything up to 18 overs per day which is a healthy amount.” ANYTHING UP TO.”

            Shouting, personal insults, to say nothing of fundamentally illogical. Obviously the phrase “anything up to X” implies that X is a possible outcome. Arguing “he didn’t say 18, he said up to 18” is not a logical argument.

            “You have completely misrepresented what he said, Which makes me suspicious of some of your other claims. ”

            False accusations, weird conspiracy theories, more personal accusations:.Again; completely unacceptable.

            “So now we know why you are so sensitive to another opinion…..you coach in this environment. Hmm, Hardly impartial?”

            More bizarre personal insults/conspiracy theories. This one is just illogical. Coaches aren’t allowed an opinion on coaching? Wtf.

            “All I can say is I’m glad I played my cricket when I did. When there was a lot more time available, (A long time ago) I feel very sorry for kids if this is the environment they to have to learn in. I realise the pressures of modern life, and time shortages make this what it is, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me.
            Sounds more like square bashing than cricket.”

            And to top it off, a spot of really quite serious slander.

            Now please note that I received all this before I said anything in my defence about my attackers being ignorant snobbish and misinformed.

            Sadly the insults only became more serious and personal from this point on.

            I think I’m owed apologies from at least 2 people, and really this site should ban obvious trolls like “marek” who clearly have nothing constructive to offer.

            Finally, regardless of your opinion either way, I really don’t think your wading into this situation is in any way helpful or constructive, “Northern Light”.

            Perhaps it would be more helpful in future if rather than throwing petrol on the bonfire with some personal insults and sarcastic comments all of your own, you attempted to dissuade people from personal insults, and got the conversation back on track.

            Like

          • Marek Mar 20, 2019 / 11:03 am

            Forgive me for being so dense–it’s probably because I’m not a T20 coach!–but when you asked Mark if he was taking his meds [the comment appears to have been moderated, but was up for a while], which part exactly of T20 spin-bowling technique were you referring to?!

            Like

  13. Zephirine Mar 18, 2019 / 4:44 pm

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/mar/18/annie-vernon-olympic-gb-rowing-silver-interview-donald-mcrae
    Reading this interview confirmed my belief that elite athletes are not entirely sane. The obsession with being The Best – not just wanting to be on the top level in your sport in the world but actually needing to beat everybody else so much that ‘only’ getting a silver medal at the Olympics scars you for life. I mean, come on.

    But that’s why elite athletes don’t, can’t, understand amateurs. Being an amateur cricketer or footballer or runner or violinist or actor is about working with existing limitations, not obsessively needing to overcome all limitations. As RPoultz’s excellent post and the ones before and the comments show, club cricket is about a group of people getting as much enjoyment as possible from playing a sport given their limited time, money and ability. They choose to play, they fit their cricket into the rest of a normal life, and they can play the forms of the game that they damn well choose. Some like T20 better and some don’t and that’s absolutely fine.

    The original remarks by the professionals seemed to show an inability to distinguish between ‘participation’ meaning ‘playing club cricket’, ‘a feeder system for future professionals’ and ‘a source of paying audiences for the professional game’. Those are three very different things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rpoultz Mar 19, 2019 / 8:14 am

      That is a really good point regarding the inability to understand why people play club cricket. From a personal point of view

      I think that is now getting lost into the second part of that comment with Premier Leagues now being seen as ‘a feeder system for future professionals’. The league I play in is now pushing to open our league into a county wide invitational premier league which is realistically designed to be a feeder league into county 2nd XI and county cricket. This move for me is incredibly short sighted and forgets about all of the leagues below from 1stXI to 4thXI. It is in real danger of creating ‘super clubs’ that will dominate the top division and hoover up any decent young players so that clubs below have no real chance of competing or moving up. This change in league will also mean much more travel for a lot of clubs which will certainly cause issues. It just seems that they are happy ignore the teams and clubs below 1stXI Premier League.

      Like

  14. LordCanisLupus Mar 19, 2019 / 10:25 pm

    First of all, I reiterate my thanks to Ross for the post. I enjoyed it, thought it was informative, certainly on family life, and in subsequent conversations around the detail, on how running a bigger club than I have ever been involved it mounts up the costs. I played for a club that rented a home ground at weekends and played away matches with regular opponents, a number of clubs of that ilk dying out like we eventually did.

    One of the traditions of this blog is that we trust our commenters to do the right thing. Be snarky at the ECB, or some of the sacred cows in the media or TV, although I prefer well argued criticism, but play nice down here. I’m not going to do “can’t we all just get along”, but let’s put it this way, I’m not impressed by condescension as a means of debate. What the point is is that club cricket is not a single entity but a myriad of formats and competitions, where if you look hard enough you can find something you like. Be it midweek T20 leagues, wandering cricket teams, teams who want to play friendlies, work matches, and the bigger league club cricket.

    I’m much too busy at work these days to continue the output I used to. I am grateful for those that fill the void, like Ross did. Disagreement can come in many ways. Many of them hard to take for those who write. I’ve written many, many times on the cricket media, yet have never been, have never wanted to be, and never want to be, a journalist. I’ll just leave that there,

    Liked by 3 people

    • thelegglance Mar 20, 2019 / 3:53 pm

      I don’t actually blame him overly for that. But not a bad confirmation of the differences for a pro that so many pointed out to him.

      Like

    • dArthez Mar 22, 2019 / 10:31 pm

      So the basic gist is that England player retires from red ball cricket, and the gap has to be filled up by buying red ball players from the former colonies, such as the West Indies and South Africa. Clearly a sustainable model.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. LordCanisLupus Mar 20, 2019 / 12:39 pm

    Some days I wish I had the spare cash around to fund that widget that allows me to end comments on a blog post.

    I thought I had seen it all in my five years since blogging got “real”, but in the space of three days I’ve been told who is allowed to comment, who I’m allowed to publish, and now who I should ban (bad news is that I don’t have that function either).

    We have had a tradition of not moderating. At some difficult times, to avoid the sort of nonsense I’m seeing here, we may feel the need to pre-mod. But we’ve taken that off now. This depends on people behaving sensibly. I just don’t have the time for nonsensical. risible drivel.

    At a time when our above the line is getting widespread praise, and the net of potential readers was cast far and wide, and attracted some new people, I’m afraid my heart sinks when one individual digs his heels in, refuses to countenance another view, and takes umbrage when people react to it.

    We do this, well I do, for the love of writing, and yes, it’s really nice when people say nice things, but it is also good to be challenged. I wrote a lot of angry stuff in the past, and some of my reactions could be immature, but I developed. I still have a thin skin, but you have to count to ten and realise arguments may be going nowhere and pack it in.

    That last response (not the Gurney retiring one) I read to this post was as depressing a thing I’ve read in a while, and the author of it should think whether (a) it’s the image he wants to portray and (b) who he’s exactly trying to win over by that approach?

    Have a nice day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • AB Mar 20, 2019 / 1:06 pm

      Turning off comments misses the entire point of blogs. 99% of the time, the comments contain more sense than the original post (this posting being no exception). More people come to read the comments than read the original post.

      “I’m afraid my heart sinks when one individual digs his heels in, refuses to countenance another view, and takes umbrage when people react to it.”

      Well you’re the one that published his arrogant, daft, snobbish, and misinformed article.

      Like

      • thelegglance Mar 20, 2019 / 1:26 pm

        Ok that is enough.

        We have given you enormous latitude to make those comments but it will not be at the expense of the wider discussion or other posters. You can slag us off until the cows come home and I couldn’t care less.

        But I’m not going to put up with anyone killing the comments and scaring others away who daren’t say anything for fear of being jumped on. Ross put a lot of work into this post, and does not deserve being shouted down by someone who can’t conceive of the idea that another experience might be different.

        If you wish to contribute, do so. If you wish to bully, it won’t be allowed.

        Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus Mar 20, 2019 / 1:50 pm

        And thanks very much to Ross for his time and effort in writing an impressive debut post. I hope this doesn’t dissuade others from volunteering to write.

        The reaction on here and on Twitter to it has been brilliant for a first effort, actually brilliant for a 100th effort. It’s been a fairly consistent reaction too.

        I am reminded of the first couple of paragraphs of THAT book when reading this comment thread.

        Liked by 2 people

        • rpoultz Mar 20, 2019 / 2:27 pm

          I would concur with those comments above and can only thank anyone really who has read or commented on it. Also, as noted, please don’t let this dissuade anyone from writing a post. We all have points of view to get across and hope to read more posts/comments from other people’s perspectives. Cheers

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Mark Mar 20, 2019 / 4:19 pm

    Rpoultz

    If I owe anyone an apology it is you. Although I generally don’t think I have done anything wrong. However, it is your topic, and your first one on here so if my comments have contributed to the comments section going off the rails I’m sorry.

    Not much makes me speechless these days, but I am completely staggered & speechless at what has been alleged. Apparently I’m wearing a tin foil hat, muttering conspiracy theories, and being portrayed as some David Ike figure talking about lizard people.I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    I could offer a line by line rebuttal, but (1) I can’t be bothered, (2) it would be utterly pointless, and (3) it would just inflame even more. So I will leave it there.

    However finally, one last point …..when AB says “More people come to read the comments than read the original post.”……my response is….

    How do you know? Have you asked every reader? And secondly, it’s not true for me as I come for both. The amazing quality of writing in the original posts, (which is far better than anything served up by professional cricket papers), and the equally interesting comments section. Thanks to all!

    And with that I’m done on this thread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rpoultz Mar 21, 2019 / 7:43 am

      Hi Mark, absolutely no apology needed mate. I myself got sucked in to responding as well so it’s just not you so wouldn’t worry about it at all. I am just happy you read the post and commented on it and look forward to hearing your views on other posts. Cheers, Ross

      Liked by 1 person

  17. thebogfather Mar 20, 2019 / 7:00 pm

    Slightly off topic, but not far – TheWhoresWhisperer has awoken, still in love with Sir Giles – ther amy be a very enjoyable twitter bout developing!

    Like

    • jomesy Mar 20, 2019 / 7:36 pm

      Thanks Ross – I really enjoyed that and the family aspects particularly resonated. I too have three children (and a wife!) and haven’t really (apart from a wonderful period of gardening leave) played any club cricket (or golf) since their arrival. I could fit T20 in but it doesn’t really do it for me. I do miss it but, personally, I prefer time with the kids and especially playing our own version of the game especially as they get older. And that’s the point you make very well. We’re all different, there’s plenty of people who like club circket just the way it is and you’re right to make those points when that comes under attack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jomesy Mar 20, 2019 / 7:38 pm

        Ps anyone seen Andy Bull saying 6N must never come off free-2-air tv?

        Like

      • rpoultz Mar 21, 2019 / 7:46 am

        Thanks for that! Appreciate it! I am lucky in some respects as my wife also played cricket as well so cricket is in our family but she still isn’t 100% happy with the time I spend away on Saturdays, so it’s a tricky balancing act. Totally agreement with you and it’s totally up to individuals how they choose to play their cricket. Hopefully the post just gave an insight into some of the impracticalities of turning the whole of club cricket into a T20/100 based system.

        Like

        • Benny Mar 22, 2019 / 9:35 pm

          Bit late but wanted to say I enjoyed your article Ross. It was balanced, informed and sincere – like all the articles on BOS.

          Like

  18. Ben Philliskirk Mar 24, 2019 / 7:16 pm

    Yes, an excellent post.

    I no longer play club cricket, and one of the main reasons was that I was playing in so many uncompetitive matches that started at 1pm on a Saturday and were finished by 5pm. In those circumstances it gets harder justifying committing a day to cricket, and you get little satisfaction from the game.

    With all the fuss about ‘T20’ it tends to be forgotten that the format has been around for years at club level, but as an opportunity to play league and cup matches on an evening. As a teenager and into my early 20s I often played up to 4 or 5 14 8-ball over evening league or ordinary 20 over matches some weeks, and sometimes 40-plus shorter format games every year. I enjoyed playing these evening matches, but it was the case for me and most other players that 45/50/55 over Saturday games were always ‘the real thing’, and what a cricketer should aspire to.

    It’s disappointing enough that full-time, professional cricketers who have the time to play all day (not necessarily every day!) should end up playing so many T20 matches, yet alone that they start lecturing amateurs on how they should play the game.

    Like

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