The Game of Cricket is Slowly Dying

Cricket is dying slowly right from junior and community level of participants through to the elite level

1 Parents are keen to push their kids in too a sport which is quick and over in a hour eg Basketball

2 This issue is twofold as kids don’t want to give up so much time for a sport where you’re not constantly involved and the best kids do most of the batting and bowling , it is also a sport which can take a lot of time to practice and actually improve at .

3 Cost of the game where kids are now expected to have all the gear unlike a few years ago where it was provided a case of keeping up with The Jones and which needs constantly replacing

4 Cost of preparing pitches and ovals and general facilities and as we are now in a era of user pays it is getting more difficult by the minute for clubs to survive

5 As time moves on and it is ironic here in that in general we have too many District Clubs and in that the standard is not high enough . We need these guys playing at community clubs

6 District cricket has moved in most states to Sheffield Shield hours of 11 to 6 the idea was fine teach batters to build long innings , spin bowlers instead we are playing quantity not quality. Guys reach , 30 and if they’re not a chance to play , 1st class cricket after having been there warming up since , 9.30 and so many weekends playing both days the sheer time commitment forces guys with families to give it away . The older player in times gone by were the vital teachers to the younger players . Boards privately admit this hasn’t worked but don’t have the guts to change back .

6 At the elite level the influence of Indian cricket where about  70 per cent of the income comes from India resulting in things such as the stupidity of playing this current one day series when England are getting a better lead in than Australia in a home series , Disgraceful !

7 Australia failed to plan for the future when we had our champions such as  Warne , McGrath , Gilchrist etc Please post your thoughts and other problems with Australian and world cricket

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Rulebook – who needs your own cricket gear? At about 15 I was arrogant enough to get my own bat, and it lasted another 15 years until retirement with a bit of tape and linseed oil.
    As for pads, gloves and ‘box’ always communal. 2 pairs of ‘jocks’ for basic hygiene. And the extras always helped if the opposition had a good quick.

  2. Marc Duncan says

    Malcolm, agree with your observations.

    We are living in a new era where the common mantra is that we are all “time poor” there just isn’t an incentive for parents to encourage their kids to get involved with cricket.

    It is also true, speaking from experience, that once you are the wrong side of 30, there is a huge pressure to retire to spend more time with family rather than nurturing the younger guys coming through. This pressure is brought about because of the fact that our partners now work full time, they want their cricket playing men to share some of the burden with kids, family, house chores etc on a weekend. And fair enough, too.

    The elite kids may still come through the system but there will be many more with the potential to become elite who just won’t make it as they are more interested in spending their summer time drinking beer with mates in the footy off season.

    Sad, yep; but it is happening. It is another reason why India will become a powerhouse in the sport as they have unlimited human capital, all keen to make a fist of cricket as a means out of their current economic predicament.

  3. Another great read, better than ‘Tiser as usual!

  4. Agree on all fronts. Also look at Alex Keath. Gave up footy to pursue cricket and cant get a game for Victoria. People in hi sposition are more likelt to chhos footy due to greater oppurtunites.

  5. Sean Fitzpatrick says

    Totally agree Mal. Some other points to consider:

    Junior level:
    • School cricket on Saturdays, Club cricket on Sundays. Should be all combined on Saturday morning only (or Friday night). Parents don’t want to take their kids to cricket on Sundays.
    • Not enough schools have got cricket teams and the ones that do don’t push it hard enough. It used to be the national sport and the no.1 sport at every school in the country. Not anymore.
    • Backyards are not big enough and streets not safe enough anymore for casual cricket. Kids only get their cricket at games and training now.
    • Most women hate cricket. This makes their kids less likely to like it and play it. I don’t remember this being an issue when I was a kid but it certainly is now.

    Community level:
    • Unrealistic expectations from clubs drives players away – Some guys are OK to get away from their family from 12 to 6.30 on a Saturday but they’re made to feel guilty by not turning up for 2 full 2.5 hour training sessions (plus pub afterwards on a Thursday), or not going to the pub after the game for a couple of hours, so they end up giving it away altogether
    • Quirks (even at lower grade level) such as 1 day games which go from 12.00 to 6.50 and T20 games that start at 11.30, throw out regular routines and cause issues either at home and/or work.
    • No umpires below A grade (and excessive sledging in all grades) make games antagonistic, reducing enjoyment and eventually driving guys away from the game.
    • No short form options (e.g. 20/20) on either a Saturday or midweek for guys who can spare 3 hours a week but no more.
    • Indoor cricket too different from the real thing to generate any interest in cricket itself.
    • Most women hate cricket. This makes it hard for their husbands to keep playing it year after year.

    District level:
    • You’ve covered this already – way too many clubs, and too many grades – the top 6 (and A Grade only, B Grade at a stretch) should remain in district. The next 7 (and D, C and possibly B Grade) should be relegated to the ATCA with promotion/relegation thereafter.

    Elite level:
    • No meaningful championship in any form of the game reduces interest in anything other than the ashes these days.
    • 20/20 is too short and 50/50 too long to generate the right level of interest. The two formats also take focus away from each other rather than focussing everybody on the one thing. A compromise of 30/30, 35/35 or 40/40 would combine the benefits of both and narrow the focus onto that one format.
    • Stupid quirks like going off for bad light when there are lights on, or deciding the world cup via duckworth lewis initially (and then playing it out in the dark), when there was a full reserve day still available, are sometimes the last straw for people who are frustrated with the game already (I have lost interest in the world cup since that debacle).
    • Most women hate cricket. This makes it hard for men (and kids by default) to keep watching it on TV or going to games.

  6. You left out gambling Rulebook. You just can’t trust The Game anymore. Even test cricket has been sullied.

    Furthermore, once you lose that winning culture it’s so difficult to regain it. And without heroes you won’t draw the total commitment of the generation next.

    Then there’s to circus element. It’s just not Cricket anymore Old Chap.

  7. Sean Fitzpatrick says

    One other thing I forgot. Applies at all levels from teenage years up. Its the competition from football. When I was younger you played football in the winter and cricket in the summer. Football commitments, particularly pre-season, even at lower grades, are so long and taxing that very few have now got the time or the energy to play cricket as well during the summer. Once again, it’s a change in attitude over time, for which cricket has come off second best.

  8. Greg Flasher says

    Rulebook, Thanks for the reminder on the very good list of reasons why I won’t encourage my kids into cricket! All very true and cricket is looking very dated and out of touch in the modern age.

    I’ll add another one to the list and that’s the loss of respect for the elite cricketers. Australia have been bad winners and sore losers a little too often in the last 10 years. Too few Brett Lees and too many Watsons etc.

  9. Very true reasons there Rulebook.

    I am currently in that position of do I play cricket in the footy off season? Pre season training starts soon and I’d rather play footy over cricket, hence I can’t commit to a proper cricket season. Also a big part is the amount of time it takes to play cricket, the summer is my uni holidays where I want to have free time and go out with mates.

    I filled in for my old cricket club Stirling Eagles on Saturday though, with my old man too and we had a ball! Was C grade hills cricket but still great fun. It has inspired me to play more. It is uninspiring though when you get out cheaply and have to watch all day then field.

    Obvious points but more evidence to suggest cricket is dying unfortunately. The sport isn’t as exciting as others, to watch or play. Hopefully though there will be those that can appreciate it for what it is truly worth.

  10. Malcom

    Interesting read and my take is viewed from the junior level. Here a couple of things that come to my mind re cricket:

    Whilst basketball is a great junior sporting activity for both kids and parents alike, I’m not so sure that cricket is losing players because of it. As a parent I would much rather sit back and watch cricket on a Friday night instead of driving to an 8 pm game of Basketball in a suburb that is often miles and miles away! For kids that perform beyond the entry domestic level of basketball the parental commitment and involvement jumps enormously.

    This season I was amazed that the club I am currently associated with had almost enough kids for four under 11 teams. They ended up fielding three teams, one each for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning. There are roughly 13/15 kids in each team which frees families up to take a weekend away. I particularly like Friday night games ( i could say especially if the bar is open, but that could be frowned upon by the parent police)

    For kids (and parents) who embark on the cricket journey, I have found it a great sport until the middle teenage years. Once the pressures of school sport and study start to kick in (and parties) around year 9 and 10, kids are faced with the prospect of having to spend the whole of Saturday playing the game. This creates a dilemma and in most cases eliminates any possibility of getting a part time job for these kids. A dilemma that then kicks over to the university years and beyond.

    And Sean….I wouldn’t assume most women hate cricket…in fact the most recent complaint I heard was this week and was regarding a child not playing in a local team was because of his fathers reluctance to make the commitment, not his mothers. Women have more of a problem with their partners playing over the weekends as you have alluded to.

    I think it is a great game, a fabulous antidote to the footy season and am happy to encourage our youngsters to play.

  11. Steve Baker says

    A bit of a leftie observation here; but other sports are miles ahead when it comes to ‘inclusion’. I’m not sure 1st class domestic cricket doesn’t accurately represent the composition of grass roots players. I’m not suggesting Shield/State teams MUST have a better racial mix, but given the amount of players from Asian/sub-continent origin playing grade cricket, when was the last time you saw a Singh/Kumar/deSilva/Fernandes/Khan talked about as a future national or state team prospect?

    Maybe they aren’t good enough to progress beyond Grade Cricket, I don’t know, but it’s always struck me how ‘white’ the national and 1st class sides are, compared to the composition of grade and junior sides.

    Just sayin’… *shrugs shoulders*

    (And please, spare me the “but look at Usman Khawaja and Fawad Ahmed” observations. Neither player hardly entrenched in the National squads)

  12. So true. Can’t wait to read next week’s article on how to fix it?

  13. Simon Willcox says

    My wife is a bigger cricket fan than I am
    We are both looking forward to the ashes at the rejuvenated
    Adelaide Oval, even with its drop in
    I fear you are right though Malcolm
    The big money from the subcontinent has made most cricket
    just another thing you bet on

  14. Excellent points Malcolm, I don’t envy the job of cricket administrators at the grassroots right through to the elite level. There are definitely increasing logistical, social and psychological barriers to playing the game competitively in the 21st century.

    I tend to think the hardest to overcome without bastardising the game even more is your second point where inherently too much time is spent as a participant spectating, including long periods in the field barely touching the ball.

    This is only exacerbated by a fast paced world where patience is a dying artform – for both kids and adults.

    And I agree 100% that the time aspect becomes even more crucial at 30+ due to the pressures outlined. It adds to Ian Chappell’s recent comments around experienced players not staying in the game to help younger players improve.

  15. Peter Zitterschlager says

    Hey Malcolm

    I’m afraid to say I disagree, mate. Just did some detective work and the info I found on the net shows that cricket participation is growing. Indeed, in 2012, it has the highest rate and was the most popular sport in the country!.

    I, like you, lament that traditional cricket is waning, but still Test cricket is in rude health in Australia. Indeed, I can’t remember it being more popular. And as for romantic attachments to the way the game was structured in the past, I’m learning to let go. Sure I’d love test players to play shield cricket and for the focus to be on the traditional game, but you have to roll with the punches. T20 is the first time cricket has worked at a domestic level, and really for all its shortcomings, it’s a helluva dynamic game. Cricket like everything is evolving, and I thinks that’s fascinating. And I await what’s around the corner for my favorite game in fascination. For me, anyone who doesn’t is being a fuddy duddy.

  16. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks for the feedback folks
    PeterB I agree with you re gear but from lagging around a school kit bad on sat mornings it gets very little use and peer group pressure means all the kids have there own gear which needs constant replacement and re adults no general club kit and most guys are too shy or have a complex re borrowing others .
    Raj I really hope ,Alex Keath and Alex Carey progress thru the ranks it will help others in
    Tracks Lane has played some league footy but i feel he would have gone further in cricket and from a , Pembroke perspective , George Horlin Smith was always viewed as a future teat player .
    Sean Club cricket is needed in that some schools don’t have sides also in some clubs better coaching . Expectations re guys contributing to a club and re family is a hard one no easy answer and personally I like the idea of short mid week games
    Don’t agree with you re Females plenty who love the game can’t generalise
    Totally agree with you re pre season football training personally I think it is ridiculous how early it starts and always shows thru lack of numbers at training come , July August
    Wrap Gambling has bought a ugly suspicion in every time something unusual happens you wonder about the authenticity v sad but here for ever
    Flasher I agree with you re lack of respect and overall our sporting standards have dropped remembering there is a winner and loser a fact where we treat the losing team disgracefully at times and a lack of decorum when we win
    Kate I no re do lose kids to shorter length sport but you make a fantastic point that it is during teenage years the real drop off occurs and there has to be more imagination and compromise re programming of junior cricket
    Steve Unfotunately I have to agree with you stats wise you only have to look at the huge percentage of , indigenous players re footy and yet cricket wise very little
    Surely with the huge amount of money at the elite there could be programmes and more encouragement to get a higher proportion of our multi cultural population to progress
    Thanks folks

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Interesting topic Malcolm. Sean’s comments about the competition from football are spot on and especially make it hard to get footballers to commit after they leave junior ranks. The competition I play in in South West Victoria has gone through something of a revival with a new strong club being formed in one town and most other club’s improving their numbers. I coach our club’s under 13 team and for the first time in years we have more junior players than we can put on the field at once, which is much better than the alternative. The challenge is to keep them interested in and keen to play cricket.
    At the highest level the influence of the BCCI and corruption from gambling are the games biggest problems. Followed by the lack of relevancy of so many games. These will always be issues while India has so much power. Admitting Bangladesh to (premature) Test status gave the Asian/African countries the balance of power.

  18. Chris ansell says

    Unreasonable wives. That’s the problem!! Bahaha

  19. Agree with most of whats been said here but particularly relate to Hewish.
    I love Footy & Cricket, but I find I don’t look forward to playing Cricket in the same way I do footy.
    When I get to the nets for a hit or get to a game I get into it and love it, but there’s been many beautiful Saturday summer mornings where I’d rather take the surfboard down the beach or drop a some cans in the esky and go fishing than sit in the field all day and even more so having to commit to 2 weeks of cricket.
    The community associations really need to consider shorter form comps as a way of keeping people involved.
    20/20 & one day comps particularly for the lower grades would keep a few more people involved.
    Good stuff book, I’m with Dutchy, can’t wait for the solution next week.

  20. mickey randall says

    There’s ample reason to be concerned with the state of cricket at all levels, but I’m confident that it will endure. The grace, beauty and unpredictability it offers to players and spectators is timeless and has survived crises in the past. Watching a Gilchrist unleash, or a Warne mesmerise a batsman will ensure its future. I’m not suggesting that the sport is problem-free, but it offers a uniquely elemental contest.

  21. Great discussion. Many good points but I thought Sean Fitzpatrick was particularly on the money.
    Good to see that the CA/ICC/BCCI campaign to kill cricket is trickling down to grass roots level.
    Cricket is like opera or classical music. It was once the dominant music form, now it is just so 19th century. Who wants to haul 30 musicians and their instruments around to enjoy music that takes forever to play, and where you need a PhD to know the end of a movement from the end of a piece (embarrassing to applaud in the wrong places).
    Cricket is a quaint tradition with many historical virtues, but time has passed it by with considerable help from the management.
    As I heard Gideon Haigh say on the weekend “does cricket need money to exist; or does cricket exist to make money?”
    A dying carcass can keep the jackals fed for a while.

  22. Not enough Pimms jugs at community cricket!

  23. A very good article with many good points and many comments supporting and strengthening it.
    I work in a school and i can support the drop off rate from the sport of cricket is massive. Kids and parents don’t want to spend large volumes of time at games of cricket. Kids of today are also after immediate success and struggle with failure or not being the center of the game-The me generation is very prevalent and this type of game that does not reward everyone, this is harder for current children and parents to except.
    I worry for the game

  24. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Peter numbers at a junior level are fine also stats wise you can do what you like , I no from experience that beach cricket and 20 20 werent around when numbers were last done as, Kate points out it is the age of , 14 or so when kids have discovered bloody video games they can play with another kid while they are still home it is poor for communication skills and about learning about real winning or losing
    This is also the age where , 4 various reasons it becomes cheap child minding facility thru younger siblings , split relationships , work , laziness where children are the drop and run trust me kids do get disheartened and give it away
    Mickey We all thought the , West Indies would return to there glory days , 25 yrs later were still waiting .. Australian domestic cricket , Ponting was the last young player to arrive with a huge bang in domestic cricket . Mickey I hope I am wrong but I am hugely concerned re the state of the game

  25. Book,
    Trying to come up with a reasonable response – I have experience with the same situation with Jacko – gave up Grade cricket with Kensy at U16 level as time prevented him doing both footy and cricket and Year 12. Similar situation occurred with Brad McKenzie and George H Smith – both of whom were much more talented at cricket than Jack! There is a simple equation to put it all into perspective – AFL has 18 teams, each with a list of 44 players = 792 on lists (ie 792 getting paid even if not playing at the very top level). The average salary is $260k pa. and the minimum is circa $55k pa. Most players in AFL get a 2 year deal at the outset – so they know what they will earn as a minimum from day 1. They don’t have outside employment – they are professional sportsmen. CA has 20 contracted players at the ultimate level (give or take a couple). The states contract about 15 players each – and they are paid in the main a pittance to be retained. The difference is that SACA can grab any player from the Grade comp and give them a 1st Class /ODD game and not have to put them on a contract. No certainty in salary, no length of tenure etc. I know which system I’d rather be in!!

  26. Lots of good input here Rulebook.. esp payment comparisons against AFL.
    Grassroots cricket is being killed by the fact that Grand Theft Auto and FIFA soccer is more interesting to the couch potato kids of today than back yard cricket. I don’t see EA sports pushing a new cricket game each year.. So the million dollar question is, “how can cricket appeal to kids who don’t want to play it as a video game, watch it on TV or play it on saturdays”.
    No easy answer unfortunately..
    We all know that,
    Kids get sick of Milo eventually.
    Teenage boys know that you don’t meet chicks playing cricket.
    Uni students enjoy a beer or two but sometimes don’t rock up every weekend and still know that you don’t meet chicks playing cricket.
    30+ get nailed down with family duties.

    Good thing I just won on the Cup because this topic is depressing!

  27. Cam Duncan says

    The halcyon days of participation are over and I fear they are not coming back. The unfortunate reality is guys do not want/ are unable to commit 10 hours per week to playing the game even at a bush league level.

    Lads want to play footy. These days it means a pre season commencing in November and a GF in September.

    Unlike cricket, they get fit, more than two tumbleweeds watch them play and their chances of “meeting” a bird afterwards in the club rooms/ pub are a lot greater than around cricket where the chances of getting amongst a bit of nudity often concludes with one of the old blokes showering after the game.

    I think kids will still get involved over the next 10 or so years with parent’s romanticism of the game encouraging their offspring to play but the real battle will be maintaining the enthusiasm as the kids progress in age and they find better things to do with with their Saturdays over, arguably, the best time of the year.

  28. I reckon footy’s in danger of getting into the same boat, although certainly not as long hours. These days we’re expected to arrive at the ground 2 hours before we play, and are getting strapped and changed before Half Time of the 2’s.

    As for Cricket, you could even add about 30 mintues to the time away from home each way depending on the venue involved. The costs though to get gear though are silly. I was fortunate that last time I played (3rd Grade 2007) there was a club kit although I had to purchase the cream trousers from BigW (last seen in a charity bin). Nowdays you’re looking at about $100 for a proper sized bat, that again and more for the protective equipment (gloves, pads, helmet, box, thigh pad seem to be the minimum although I could do away with the last bit of gear), then another $10 a week for wicket fees or to pay the umpire.

  29. Hi Malcolm

    Again, not so sure we need to be alarmed about cricket’s welfare.

    The following is from a Robert Craddock article from the Courier mail on the 26th of Aug this year.

    “THE Ashes may be gone but cricket is fighting back with record growth at lower levels of the game.

    The Australian Cricket Census, to be released today, will reveal that a record 951,933 participants played the game across Australia in 2012-13.

    It’s an increase of 8.2 per cent and there is expected to be a further spike this season as is traditional in the wake of an Ashes series in England.

    Queensland has led the rejuvenation with an increase of 28?per?cent in player numbers.

    The growth figures are significant because cricket’s popularity, while still strong, had started to stagnate.

    Cricket officials were disturbed by research taken three years ago that revealed the code was losing relevance among young Australians, particularly aged 5 to 15.

    One survey revealed that 70?per?cent of Australian children in this age group had no interest in cricket.

    The alarm bells rang loudly in the ears of senior officials and there has been an aggressive nationwide push to restore the game to its former glory.

    The three key areas of growth were club cricket, entry-level participation and a substantial rise in female participation.

    Entry-level participation grew by a remarkable 47.9?per?cent while the success of the national women’s team, the Southern Stars, helped female participation surge by 18.8?per?cent 178,416.

    Female participation had doubled in the past four years and now makes up almost 19?per?cent of cricket’s participants.

    Queensland is delighted to be at the forefront of the game’s regeneration, particularly as some Brisbane schools had dug up their wickets in recent seasons to focus on other sports.

    “We had a real ‘regain the schoolyard’ push across the state and worked very closely with the staff and teachers to drive cricket as a healthy team activity for boys and girls to enjoy, especially in
    modified formats,” Queensland Cricket acting chief executive Richard Powell said.

    “Pleasingly, the numbers also show that a decline in senior playing numbers at club level has been arrested and have grown to 2009-10 levels in the wake of some concerted efforts to assist clubs to adapt and modify the types of competitions they offer.”

    Cricket Australia will today unveil http://www.playcricket.com.au, a website designed to encourage participation at all levels.”

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Shotgun V good point it is a area of the game where , CA has to be more pro active and offer contracts to promising kids to try and keep them with , George Horlin Smith the perfect example . Hopefully a , Kane Richardson with , 20 20 cricket getting a contract with a , India team is a lure as well but as you have correctly pointed out percentage wise who can blame a kid for going footy .
    RAF Spot on re video games people do not realise the problems in society caused by them
    Mick re Footy have to be careful re time of arrival although I think common sense comes in re some one working till nearly game time I hope so anyway !
    T Bone stats wise , Entry Wise re , Milo Cricket and lady’s cricket is up and , Qld to there credit seems to be going better than most but I no from around the traps there is generally a lunatic such as myself ringing around trying to fill sides it is not that long ago where you had to train to get a game and there were people left over not so at the majority of clubs around the country. The standard of grade and community , 2 day cracker continues to drop yes increase of numbers in various areas but as from other posts there are huge problems personally I don’t think there is a solution

  31. Chris Weaver says

    Cricket’s participation rate is up because – as Malcolm says – Milo Cricket and women’s cricket are healthy.

    The problem is the huge attrition rate that develops once kids get past under 12s. Only basketball can match cricket’s failure to retain talent through adolescence.

    Anglo kids will continue to find the fame and fortune available in footy to be an irresistible lure. The good news is that increased migration from the Subcontinent will mean cricket retains relevance and a budding talent base.

    What the sport needs to get better at though is progressing the Asian kids through top junior and district sides. These are the kids who are nailed-to-the-mast, but they’re grossly underrepresented in the under 19 sides and in first grade comps.

  32. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Hi Peter Do you no if in , Queensland if more people play either , Aussie rules or rugby and cricket ? Whether there is more common sense re pre season of the other sports and so people can and do play both sports ? Thank you

  33. Rulebook
    Agree with your comments – but probably more complex and not sure that SACA etc are across the issues. The age of B, C and D Grade continues to fall from what I can see with not many over 22 playing in B grade or below. My Thomas has been asked to fill in at C Grade level in the past two seasons and they are all young kids and not really that enjoyable for him. Scores of 138 last year and 68 last Sat show what the standard is like for someone who has no training in 2.5 years.
    Agree with comments by others on website – times have changed and pressure on in all aspects of life. Most young people have part time jobs with employers who are not that flexible – we did not have to work when we were studying. Employers are more demanding now and 9-5 jobs rare even in Govt and hence more pressure at work and less time. Wives all work now so more jobs at home for men and they do not see it entertaining to sit at cricket for a few hours on Sat afternoon with the kids as Jane and many of her friends did.
    Parents have high expectations of clubs and their kids (and kids have of themselves) and hence when not in A’s by 18 look for other things.
    Same things with girls cricket – drop out rate high after 18 and those who want to play for social reasons have not peer group to meet up with and have a good afternoon playing and a couple of drinks.
    Volunteers are getting scarcer and demands of organising from parents and players getting harder.
    All downhill from here.

    David B

  34. Great article Book – I grew up on footy in winter, little aths on Friday night followed by a cricket marathon of school Sat mornings, club sat arvo’s and ray sutton shield on Sundays….all up a massive weekend of cricket. I gave cricket away in my first year of uni as I wanted to go away to shacks and swim, surf, fish, sink tins on Saturdays in summer. The SACA had Sat/Sun games on which was certainly not appealing after committing to footy for 9 months of the year. Now double incomes have challenged leisure hours and how they are spent, family time seems to be now more precious than ever. I am waiting with baited breath for your 5 point plan solution ala Shane Warne’s recent fix for aussie cricket.

  35. No more heroes playing cricket for Australia anymore either! Don’t have a settled line up and people can’t get accustomed to the players… What kid wants to go out into the back yard and emulate the feats of Glenn Maxwell?

  36. Chris Weaver says

    Tom, that’s a really good point – one which comes about due to the dog’s breakfast that occurs through having three formats.

    The first season I followed cricket (1989-90), Australia used I think 18 players across 6 Tests and 10 Limited Overs Internationals.

    Last season, I think I counted 36 players who turned out for the national team during the Australian summer. It’s very hard to have role models when they’re being rotated constantly. Kids don’t have a lot of time or respect for ‘informed player management’.

  37. i blame global warming. summers in oz are just too hot nowadays to stand around in the field for 6hrs+

  38. Good thoughts Malcolm. I’m a bit of a throwback I’m afraid. For mine, juniors should be all about fun. Community should be pretty flexible. District: too many games all round. Occasional Sunday game would be sufficient. Don’t support the extended playing hours. Look, life is very busy, and commitments to families are always growing. It’s unrealistic to expect guys, particularly older guys, to keep committing that number of hours. Yes, can make opportunities available for the more elite players of all ages, but not as a general rule for all.

  39. Geoff Wilson says

    Malcolm, i agree with a number of points that you make, but i dont believe that cricket is dying, it may not be as healthy as we would like,at Payneham we have four senior sides, admittedly we did use to have six and thirteen junior teams, when back in the 70s and 80s we only had one or two,now the trick is to turn a good percentage of these junior cricketers into senior cricketers and not lose them to other sports and interests, that’s the challenge.

  40. Spot on Mal, a combination of the times. In cost, in length of game and attention span/commitment!

    I always found committing to cricket hard as I worked on Saturdays over summer, and, when not, we’re the few short times I could have free weekends due to footy!

    A bloody shame. Wish I had answers.

  41. Valid points, I happened to read them whilst in an Edninburgh pub to a guy who played county here. We both disagreed on the last point though.

  42. Hey Mal,

    I can reflect on a few things but some are specific to my experience:-

    1. I grew up in a country town. In summer you played cricket or tennis and in winter you played footy. Clearly things have moved on and even in country towns not just cricket but footy too is shrinking. Echuca ( the old home town ) had its own league and now doesn’t. In summary all tradional sports are shrinking.

    2. I think others have said it before – but I tend to think the society ( not just kids ) are very much about immediate gratification – attention span(?). It will take a smarter guy than me to say why but we see it in technology being used and of course the 20/20 game says it all.

    3. I know people will have their opinion but compared to the 1960’s and 70’s life is pretty cushy and with kids being a product of their environment then standing in a hot paddock all day is going to be pretty hard. When summer hits we know people are too scared to go outside and people often hibernate with air-cond blowing. That was never an option when I grew up ( no air-cond back then ) and as a consequence we still got out there and played. But I should make it clear that some of this has bitten back with skin cancers. As a generation we really didn’t understand the consequences of sun damage. In summary I am not sure I blame the kids ( attention span/quick gratification ) because as adults we have been part of building and adopting that type of society – they are now products of it.

    4 Following on – we do live in lucky times when as an afluent society we offer so many choices. This follows my previous point except to say that kids and parents have access to so many interests, hobbies, sports and activties. It all takes a bite into those traditional activities. This also refers back to Point 1.

    5 And I would agree with a few posts that it often starts at schools BUT not always in a formal way. The constant informal games at lunchtime and recess were something we lived with as much as anything formal. I don’t know how many would grab stumps, ball and bat and start impromptu games every lunchtime. I don’t see much it. My point here is that it starts as a game – with mates and is fun. So our education was a mix of the informal and the formal

    6. My limited experience with living in SA has been that there is a lot of emphasis on kids going into District Talent programs very quickly while the enormous numbers that are left don’t seem to have a pathway into other senior grades of cricket as they progress or find themselves losing opportunities in game to play roles. I friend ( ex test cricketer I know in NSW ) had his son playing Green Shield (Preimier u16 competiton ) but just gave up to play golf because he was sick of getting a handful of overs and batting low. From what I could understand he had the genes to do very good things but kids develop at different time; they need a chance to do so and fail along the way. Not sure what the answer is on that one; we all want to win games at any grade.

    Mal – not sure about the comment on grounds. I have played in bush paddocks, malthoid, hemp, carpet and turf – and even a concrete strip in Quetta Pakistan; my experience is that for those that love the game we will play on anything if it comes down to it although if you do want to play pure cricket and foster young cricketers then you are right about the cost to parents and clubs to provide gear and facilities

    But on an optimistic note I think cricket is one of the most wonderful games a person can play. Not only does it offer mateship and a healthy lifestyle but it is a game rich in tradition, requires patience, endurance, concentration, challenges the indivual and can mould a personality. It can also be chess-like with plots and sub-plots but equally can demand dynamic changes to counter attacking and defensive plays – so while a game like that exists it will always find people drawn to its lure ( players and spectators alike ), its challenges and its immense personal and team rewards.

    I am sure we are up for change but I believe things go in cycles and while some troughs may run deep – they don’t necessarily die and disappear- so long live cricket.

    And Fitzy – from my memory those spouses that bemoan lost Saturday afternoons to cricket ( or golf perhaps ) have always existed – and dare I say it – but it says to me that for those suffering that pressure – all the more reason they need a Saturday afternoon with their mates, in their whites/creams playing a grand old game of cricket – finishing sitting under the nearest shady gum tree with a cold beer in hand often talking to not only your team mates but the opposition as well! Take me to heaven with that thought!

  43. Sam McEwen says

    Agree with a loyt of your comments Rulebook.
    One thing is that these things go in cycles and when the Aussies are back at the top there will be an increase in inspired youngsters.
    Getting back there is the problem

  44. I should add that we all have goals. As kids they can be very modest and often basic and as we get older they can become more complicated. They can range from (1) playing (2) wanting to bowl (3) taking wickets (4 ) taking wickets with minimal runs. Batting can be the same (1) playing (2) not batting last (3) not making a duck (4) making runs (5) occupying the crease and making runs (6) occupying the crease, playing to the conditions, playing a role, forming partnerships, making runs

    Whether it is cricket or work we all set these goals and what happens if we don’t achieve them. At work we get miserable and if we can we get another job – if not we become unproductive. At cricket we might first of all stand around looking disinterested and then we give up ( or maybe the odd person will find another club ).

    Good coaches and managers are all about trying to understand the individual and bring him into the game by working with their personality and their goals. That is a hard thing to ask a volunteer Dad to do – and harder again when he feels the pressure from other parents, but at the end of the day if, as individuals ( kids or adults ) are not finding we are in a place where we can achieve those goals then we simply turn off, lose motivation and move on.

    From what I can a lot of the junior cricket really does do well in trying to enable kids to do this. In saying that – for the most part kids start giving it away as they start to hit that 15-16 level – up to that point they are able to have fun and achieve those basic goals.

    For me – I was terrible at 16 but loved the game. I moved to a club that had two B Grade sides and one A grade. The second side lost all the time and in that team I got a game. Not only that I even got the gloves. And I will never know how it changed but with the security of a game each week, responsiblity but no fear that failing would push me out, it all started to happen and up to my mid 30’s I was playing A Grade as Keeper and opening Batsman with in a strong comp in Melbourne. No star but that was my experience. Hard to imagine it now as I struggle back into the game! In summary – I come back to having goals and also having the environment ( sport or work ) that allows us to achieve them.

    I still have some. In the last few games it is no more than occupy the crease. Very modest but the club is allowing me to chase them and from that aspect does it matter if I am 50+ or 16.

    I don’t know if this is a useless or useful thought. I will leave it up to you Mal. I could be out on a tangent.

  45. Nick Raschella says

    Malcolm I’m not sure I think cricket is dying but its definitely stagnating.

    I agree with all your points but I’ll add a few more.

    At school, a big reason for it going backwards is the lack of male teachers. Around 25% of primary school teachers are male. I don’t think female teachers have a great desire to be coach of a cricket team, they didn’t grow up playing the game and there is no desire to spend 4 or 5 hours on a Saturday morning out in the sun. All the traditional male sports are suffering from this in balance of male teachers at primary school, especially at the public schools.

    So if you don’t get them at primary school you probably wont get them at high school where the male teachers are.

    Parents are more time poor than ever before, so they are shappy for someone else to do the organising but they aren’t going to be coaches and team supporters unless they have a great passion for the game.

    The international game need the West Indies and Pakistan to become forces again. Test Cricket really is only Australia, England and South Africa that draw crowds and are competitive. India can’t compete away from home. They have 23 provincial sides, and you would think that 2 or 3 of those provinces would produce wickets like the Gabba or Waca so they can develop fast bowlers to play an important role in away tests. But no they have to produce roads all over the country and as great as their batsmen have been they struggle on bouncy, seaming foreign wickets.

    The West indies need to find fast bowlers like the ones that shook up the world from the mid 1970’s to 2000 and batting line ups who can demolish attacks not just Chris Gayle dominating T20 cricket.

    Pakistan has been decimated by terrorist who have stopped international teams travelling to Pakistan. And gambling corruption has destroyed the integrity of the game in Pakistan. But when you can bribe an 18 year old fast bowlers to bowl 3 no balls and the money he is paid for that, will provide more money for his family living in an area dominated by the Taliban, than his parents can make in 20 years, then why wouldn’t you take the bribe???

    Zimbabwean cricket has been wrecked by Mugabe’s thuggery of his people and Bangladesh was elevated to test cricket 15 to 20 years before it was ready, but Indian TV eyed off 100 million + eyeballs and pushed for their early admission.

    Until the 10 test playing nations hand over power to an independent ICC who will make decisions for the benefit of the game, not individual board’s bank balances, the game will not be as great as it should be.

  46. Marc Robinson says

    Great article , Malcolm and some excellent and so accurate posts last , Saturday at
    School cricket at under 14 level all bar 3 parents did the drop and run and the other 2 parents disappeared quicker than , Usain Bolt when scorers were needed resulting in myself being the only scorer I am glad it was not a close finish . This is the level from now where the drop off occurs my son is already talking about giving up cricket as his mates are I will encourage him to play and my wife and I will continue to support . I would love to no how many parents had legitimately good reasons to not being there ? yep it this generation but how many parents are at fault ?

  47. Cricket here seems to work well. Juniors play 25/25 Saturday morning, then seniors play 40/40 in the arvo. The sport that has died is tennis.

  48. Glen Potter says

    Malcolm,
    Well done for initiating this much-needed, albeit disconcerting discussion. As a cricket-tragic I’ve become horribly concerned about what I see at the coal-face. I went through several years of coaching/coordinating MILO cricket and currently coach both U11s (Friday nights) and U13s (Saturday mornings). The time and energy required to keep these kids enthusiastic about the sport was/is exhausting. You need energetic people with the right passion, knowledge and management skills to ensure retention rates are strong. I see it happening through our local comp. The wrong people running the show at junior level dampen the kid’s enthusiasm for the sport and inevitably the numbers drop off. The attrition rate in our association/region is definitely cause for alarm, for all the reasons highlighted by other respondants.

    I also teach at a primary school. Only 5% of the students bother to pull a bat, ball and stumps out at recess and lunch. I’d say only about 30% play footy during the winter, but at least 50% play basketball all year round. My school is only a snapshot of one, local demographic, but nonetheless the first statistic has me rattled. I earnestly implore as many kids as possible to play cricket but too few bite.

    My pet bug-bear with all this is the dark chasm between the AFL Grand Final and the first Aussie international of the summer season; and also the lack of media exposure of cricket. The AFL have got PR down to a fine art. They ensure that their sport’s news is available through every medium, all year round and out there for all to see. People will chew the fat over footy topics all summer – drafts, trades, pre-seasons in far-flung places, etc. Such media-saturation magnifies the sport and enhances its profile. Does cricket get discussed all year round? CA needs to expose its sport the minute the AFL premiers finish their victory lap. Fixture the Aussies playing NZ, or anyone in October. Get it on free-to-air and earnest bodies, young and old, will bolster the local ranks. There’s 6-8 weeks every October/November where CA drop the ball. Catches win matches.
    Glen

  49. Rulebook

    Kudos to you indeed for initiating this discussion – I’m tired after a long day at work and then my son’s 17th, but the topic is so relevant I was compelled to read nearly all the comments. Good breadth of opinion, but a little more optimism wouldn’t go astray.

    On the parent “drop and run” thing – totally relate to this, but I am probably partly to blame because I have always been keen to help out as much as I can on a Saturday morning school game because I feel I owe them for not being able to get involved with after school training. I kind of accept that for some the Saturday morning cricket routine is a bit too hard – my parents probably did this too in summer come to think of it – but there are always just enough like me that know no better (and feel not only obliged, but compelled) and were there right from grade 1 Kanga, and hopefully through to year 12 next year … I do wonder why, but don’t complain because noone is forcing me to do this. I guess I love to see my boy grow up too, and this is really the only time I get to observe him with his peers. It is where I believe he builds self esteem, learns the (non video game) social skills, the values encouraged by the game, the respect of rules, the pleasure of being out on a Flinders Uni turf wicket at times (SOOO lucky!), and discovers his own potential and limits.

    I think that people still aspire to many of the social principles espoused by the game of cricket – yes it can appear antiquated at times, but I think that’s only in cases where misguided, petty, stuffed-shirted behaviour is mistaken for upholding traditional values. I made a decision to turn my back on district/turf cricket when in Uni, and stick to the more laid back attitudes I found in Adelaide & Suburban comp. It was a “sliding door moment” perhaps … often wondered what if I had persisted in turf cricket, but have no regrets on my decision (more on this in a minute).

    My son Cam attends St Johns Belair, and this term is the first time they have not had an open cricket side for the year 11s or 12s … they managed a shortened season in term one before the footy preseason trials kicked in, and I was happy with that, but am very disappointed there’s nothing for Cam now because he is still mad keen at both footy and cricket. He is realistic and doesn’t have an inflated opinion of his ability – but is quietly confident that given the right opportunities in both sports he will rise to the occasion. It does indeed feel a bit like he’s suddenly the last man standing – all dressed up and nowhere to go. Thankfully for him there’s another opportunity …

    This is where I get to the dilemma I’ve felt with him in the last few years … do I make a push now to get him involved in grade cricket, or do I allow him to continue playing with his old man?

    At the risk of another sliding door moment a generation onward, I am leaning on the side of feeling justified and comfortable with my decision to persist with the latter. In actual fact I think it has been vindicated – namely the fact that at 17 he is already establishing himself in my own side where I first played at the age of 16. With the median age of this one remaining Panorama Rams cricket team now comfortably over 40, he has learned much from competing against men at an early age, and he has gained greatly from this lately. Maybe I’ve just been blessed to have blokes come and go (most still around) in this side who have contributed to nurturing his progress and get a kick out of seeing him come on in leaps and bounds. But I imagine this experience would be quite normal in rural cricket, with the exception that by now Cam would be boarding in the city and only get to do this during school holidays. I think he is very lucky indeed … but I also hope I’ve done the right thing because there’s definitely a selfish aspect here: what cricket tragic wouldn’t want to play with their son for as long as he could?

    Reality check – we’re in LOF this year! OK we’ve only just switched to Adelaide Turf from Adelaide & Suburban after 30+ years on hard wicket – mainly to play 1 day games, but also to play on turf where we can. We’re only in LOF (we’re assured) because we couldn’t get ourselves a permanent turf home ground, and with our fall-back position being Clapham Primary School, our only option was to play in the one LO* grade that accommodates this. But things are on the up … after years of putting up with crappy concrete and wire nets, with uneven ground to negotiate at the bowling crease, we’ve found ourselves a new pristine training venue where Cam can actually come off his 18 step run-up and bowl with some sort of fluidity … he’s been getting more rapid over the last 18 months, but his accuracy has suffered because of the poor footing. Now that is going and he’s getting to play more games on turf again, I’m hoping he only continues to improve. I want him to get the very best out of himself, but he’s growing an inch every couple of months it seems, and I get the feeling he doesn’t need the pressure of competing for a spot on the fringes of a district team quite yet. That time will probably come soon enough … but in the interim, I have explained his story because I feel we are both privileged to be in the position we are now. I just hope at 47 he hurries up and knocks me off my opening bowling spot so I can start concentrating on my offies!

    So here I have a 17 year old with the old fashioned tunnel vision – footy in winter/cricket in summer. He’s not knocking down any doors in either sport to take the next step – but he is still as keen on both, and right now it’s all about cricket. He wants to bowl more overs, definitely, and knows what he needs to do to make that happen (I only think some more coaching would be nice – note to self), and now is talking about an opening batting spot. Why not I reckon! What a luxury to be in a side of old f#rts still needing to be competitive, but willing to experiment and create opportunity. I am treasuring this year – he may still be around next year, and if not then I would probably have to go with him. I don’t fear for him quitting the game for other pursuits (he would do OK with basketball at 6’3 I would think – but he’s not thinking about returning to that – right now it’s only cricket).

    A nice touch this season has seen another former player’s 15 year old son play his first 2 Rams games – and take wickets in the first over of both spells in both games. Cam played his first full senior game 3 years ago now at the age of 14, and had similar success. There’s a real sense of changing-of-the-guard, and as I said, it may not last long, but right now it’s GOLD. We all want what’s best for them, but right now there is a place for them to get the experiences some were lamenting earlier were mostly gone:
    – playing with older guys who can pass on a few tips;
    – father and son playing in the same team (in my case for the 4th year)
    – getting opportunities to bat and bowl, but learning to be patient for them, and what is required to earn your spot (not necessarily in the side, but in the role you play).

    What other sport would provide this opportunity? I only wish I could still get a game in Cam’s U18 footy team :). There’s still a place for cricket, and I think that’s because people still yearn for the good things it can provide, and deep down people still just get that.

  50. Malcolm Ashwood says

    David B Excellent Points with I think the work 1 being vital in that years ago work was basically , 9 to 5 now for a huge number of reasons work is , 24 7 for all ages so participation in all leisure drops off . I fancy , Tom has more ability than most and would make runs when ever ! Parents and volunteer numbers in all sport is a huge problem and growing by the minute
    C Train aka , Super boot your post again identifies the time and family problems and unfortunately I haven’t got a fix I think we better hand it over to the legend , Bob Neil
    Shane D Brilliant post better than my article , I vital point is the drop off from when we were kids in the number of impromptu games taking part in the school yard
    You point out and a fantastic reminder of coaching in setting goals and working withindividuals to achieve them would be easier if not on the bloody phone trying to find players , we are back to the guts of the article in the , 1st place !
    Shane you are a fantastic role model for every , 1 at , Pembroke thank you for being a huge part of us , Rookie keep setting your goals and go for it young fella !
    Nick Great post spot on lack of male teachers is a real problem also split relationships come in to it resulting in lack of male influence
    You identify and put it succinctly the problems at the top level in that thru , Bangladesh
    becoming a test playing nation has given way too much power to the , Asian countries
    and , India have way too much power and until there is a board which has control of the game for the good of it and not individual self interests it will continue to struggle and let’s face it I am more chance to pick up , Jen Hawkins and , Elle for a threesome than this happen !
    Pakistans problems are a separate issue and we can only hope in that regard also
    Glen superb point good educated enthusiastic good coaching is vital for youngsters to progress and want to keep playing
    Skip were are you based ? Yes I think for pure participation level there is no doubt limited overs cricket instead of , 2 day cricket is the go interesting point re , Tennis
    Model Sensational and good on you I believe father son in the same team is so special highlighted by , Smokies price a couple of weeks ago For you to have a youngster who wishes to play with you is bloody good parenting in my book pun intended
    For you to have a youngster who wishes to play both and socialise with adults good on you !
    Thanks folks the subject has created a lot of interest and there has been some brilliant in-depth and personal posts on the subject unfortunately I don’t reckon were any closer to a solution keep em coming !

  51. I’m with Dutchy – valid points Malcolm and agree with most, but need to get some positives up as well. What are the answers?

  52. Jock Rainsford says

    With the amount of people turning up to watch 20/20 these day no I don’t think cricket is going down hill aslong as the short time cricket will be around the crowds will keep coming , think people these days want action straight away with short period of time , like 20/20 gives us

  53. Todd Grant says

    I agree with what you say. Flexible working hours haven’t helped either – more people are unavailable to play on weekends now than when I started having a hit for my side back in the late 1980’s.

  54. Mohammed Leet says

    Thanks for the insightful piece of genius Malcolm. Does this explain why the Redbacks are so insipid. Heads must roll there. To many youngsters going to Turf Cricket or other sports or the beach. The answer is simple shorter hours. I am not a rocket scientist but it seems to me if we could play twighlight hours after work and free up weekends we would lose far less players. If something is not done we will end up with only divorcees and bachelors playing cricket. In the words of the great John Kennedy DO SOMETHING SACA.

  55. Rick Bizarre says

    Rulebook has got this right, as usual. Let me add my own thoughts regarding watching my son lose interest as a 10 year old. He needed some confidence regarding his shots. He only ever got net practice and then a few failures in the middle saw his confidence flag. Here is my tip for coaches …it might be labour intensive but get every kid out in the middle for say 4 overs every 2nd or 3rd practice….so they can see where they hit the ball to, and how well their shots can be made when they don’t have to risk getting out. This is not rocket science.

  56. Ian Jaggard says

    Hi Malcolm, yep good article and alot of very pertinent points in these posts. These days people are time poor, there are alot of competiting interests and seeing recreational pursuits that didnt exist even 10 years ago. Too much focus on $$ and elite development, so many give up quickly if there arent looking like super stars. People have limited time and shorter attention spans so why stand in a paddock in 40 degree heat for hours on end? The game will always exist but the format is going to get shorter. How many go to first class games (let alone local matches) these days? The huge $$$ made at top level can allow virtually empty grounds when sheffield shield matches are played. its masking sooo many problems with the game. As a past player i reckon theres hardly any players who’ll have a 20 year club career, that was a pretty regular thing up till recent times.

  57. As a younger person, my views may differ from others however these issues are often what I consider as to whether I want to continue playing cricket:

    Money: I know its only $10 a game for myself but for myself and I know my friend is the same, money is hard enough to come by and $200 is majority of what we might earn weekly/fortnightly as opposed to those who work full time where $200 is 1/5th of their weekly income.

    Time: Not that I don’t have time on a Saturday afternoon but considering my mate and I are both playing or training for footy at an elite level (SANFL clubs) where the idea of taking it somewhere is realistic, its hard to get to trainings etc. for cricket. To be honest with you and myself, I’m no superstar cricketer. I play because I enjoy it and take my footy more seriously. When the time comes that I stop enjoying my cricket or feeling pressured to give more than I am able to, that’s when I start considering whether it is worth it.

    Incentive: I personally play because I love my cricket. I have played all my life and enjoy going out there and having a hit. However if you do not love your cricket, there is not a whole lot of incentive to play.

    Comradaree: I think this is personally a big issue. I feel as though our A grade has little value of the team. I am unavailable to train and I feel as though I have a better relationship with Watto, Jake, Donks (more experienced guys). Given that I don’t train I should feel like an outsider yet I feel as though we have a good relationship and connection. In order to build cricket clubs at any level, its about the team. Keeping the team consistent and close is a huge challenge yet will bring the biggest reward.

    For any club at any level its all about the team. You will not enjoy your cricket if you are not mates with the people playing along side you. That is the key to getting young kids to play cricket, making them realise that they dont necessarily play for a hit and a bowl, but to make friends and spend time with their friends in an environment that is enjoyable for everyone.

  58. Book, thanks for opening up the topic, thought provoking. Cricket is a victim of the times. Kids want quick results. Seem to be two main issues, development to the elite level and junior participation rates. As a father of two teenagers one has persisted (WK/batsman) and is enjoying the game at 1st XI level, the other gave up after making the state squad in U13s because in club games, as an opening bowler, he’d often get three overs at 9:00am in the dewy morning and not get a second spell and not get a bat. Kids need to be involved in the game, comes down to sensible junior coaching. Now as a 190cm, 15 year old he could be an asset but has moved on to other sports.

    The problem I see at elite development is that batters have to learn to bat for 6 hours and more. The ones that are capable of this at junior (U16/U18) level hog the crease time and this provides disincentives for others to keep playing the game. The drop off rate around U13 to U15 level is alarming. At elite level, there seems to be a need for flamboyant shot making to be considered viable for T20 or 50 over games. This inherently involves taking risks that run contrary to developing players that are capable of batting for a full day at Shield or Test level. Also the high injury rate for bowlers is of concern. Don’t know if it is too much stress being placed on the early.

    Obviously the AFL experience of 700 professsional players versus a tenth of that in cricket who can make a living from it make it an easy choice for those with great talents in both games. Horlin-Smith seems a good example, might have made it as a cricketer but has a good opportunity in footy, still young. Keath not getting a game for Victoria is the cricketing downside, I believe he could have been a high draft pick in the AFL.

    Loving the comments, Model, Rick Bizarre, Shotgun, Nick Raschella, Greg Flasher and Geoff Wilson in particular seems erudite sporting types. Cheers.

  59. Stormtrooper says

    On the money as usual Book – where will the next Tim Zoehrer come from?

  60. Brenton Klaebe says

    Agree Malcolm.. Cricket has massive problems.. It’s certainly not a game that caters for the less talented in a team sport.. only the better kids get the opportunities.. you seem to have 3 or 4 that do everything and most coaches don’t understand about giving all kids an opportunity.. and the facts are you need to get cricketers playing at a young age to develop.. I discouraged mt boys from playing cricket.. sit there all day bored to tears.. sports like baseball are far mor inclusive and more exciting to play.. love your thoughts always intetesting..

  61. Sniffer the Greek Kangaroo says

    It saddens me to think this is true becuase I love the game – but my kids play basketball in preference to cricket.

  62. Darren Graetz says

    Good observations Malcolm,
    Lets face it the game of cricket is just at odds with societies general trends.
    Outside in the sun is not where the medical fraternity and many mums want thier kids to be due to sknin damage and associated risks. We to often forget that vitamin D is good for us and it keeps moods boyant and helps us deal with society.
    Everyone wants thier entertainment at call and able to be put on pause while they answer the next text. Cricket and other team sports actually require some period of focus, commitment and attention to the wider picture than just our own selfish lives.
    Play cricket, be happy, broaden your horisons and reduce your ritolin or prozac bill !.

  63. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Great thread ‘Book

    I played quite a bit of baseball as a kid in the 70s, but despite the fact that it seems to have benefits that mirror many of cricket’s downsides, it still doesn’t seem to have made any real inroads into the Australian sporting landscape forty years later.

    Not sure why, is it the fact that it is hard to play in the backyard, rules too complicated ?

  64. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Mohammed Leet Good Point I think shorter mid week games must be trialled for the survival of the game although this does present problems in getting pitchesv prepared and doing it yourself is not easy re safe place work laws another area of life where common sense has gone to the back of the line must be pursued tho
    Bizz A area where quality cricket coaching comes in we are way too consumed with being in the nets you can have the kids playing a running between the wickets game where every , 1 is involved so you are practicing all aspects of the game batting
    Bowling and fielding there is opportunities to provide variety of course nets training is Imp but it is not the only thing and yes centre wicket as you described is important
    Anonymous Brilliant post you are a quality young man , Matt Raymond your attitude gives us hope not only re cricket but more importantly re life and must be on which
    Pembroke adopts as it’s values to continue and ultimately become stronger
    Thanks Matt you have given this old prick of a cricket coach new hope
    Swish Interesting point re , Baseball not sure if it is the area needed to get a impromptu game and difficulties of doing so in the School yard , the lack of Organised school competions or , Baseball clubs not promoting themselves well enough in schools and the
    general community I suspect a combination of all these factors but it is a game which shoul be in a stronger state re participation level than what it is
    Darren Great thoughtful post as always and personally I totally agree with you yes we have to be careful re the sun but should not go as berserk as what we do canceling
    morning sport on days when it is really hot is ridiculous we should start earlier and cut time back again common sense
    Your post was succinct and accurate as always
    Stormtrooper of love intereting post Thanks folks Great comments the more the Merrier

  65. M l C H A E L W l L S 0 N says

    I dont think it is just cricket that is finding the current climate tough to exist. If you have a look at tennis associations around the state, their participation rates at a senior level have plummeted in recent years whilst like cricket have good junior levels. Be it weather, work or numerous other reasons stated in previous replies we as cricketers are not on our own.

    To read articles like the one from matt mr anonymous gives you an understanding why cricket is such a great day. It is vital for a club to have a great culture and to have good people involved. I look at opposition clubs and see no mateship, why would you bother. It comes down to the club and the blokes you play with. I am lucky I guess that I have played cricket for 16 years with fantastic blokes and this has kept my passion for the game burning strong at 41 years of age. Mind you there are days when I still question my sanity having chased a ball around a park for 80 overs. That soon dissappears with a few beers comparing war stories with your mates.

  66. Couldnt agree more with your observations Malcolm. Cricket needs a complete overhaul if it is to turn the corner. Not sure the IPL and huge money on offer to belt the ball has helped things either. Average cricketers making millions of dollars. EG Cameron White . Well done good article

  67. David Gordon says

    Good on you Malcolm!

    You have certainly elicited some great replies to your initial comments and of course “fuelled the fire” by continuing to respond as passionately as you do.

    The serious amount of time required to spend on cricket (developing a sufficient skill level to enjoy the game and then playing out a one or two day game) seems to be a key issue.

    When I was involved in SACA’s Beach Cricket program a few years ago it seemed to me to be a great way to keep kids involved, competitive and interested in cricket (albeit without teaching them the best of cricketing habits!….”Cow corner” slogging was all the rage). Six per side, face an over with the bat, get to bowl an over, rotate your field each over so you get to field in the covers and be wicket keeper too. All the equipment is supplied (including plastic matting for a “flat deck”). Each game is complete within an hour (30 minute innings) so you can get three games into a half day. The kids get to play and mix with alot of others, wear themselves out and the best team crowns themselves champions of the beach for the day.

    I guess its the beachside version of “T20” but it still keeps them keen on cricket.

    Cheers,

    Gordo

    PS: I can relate to Peter B’s early response regarding playing without your own kit. In our country team, we had a very basic supply of gear. The gloves and pads were invariably sweaty…and the protectors…well, they were always interesting to handle, especially if you batted down the order!!

  68. Biggest problem is the pathetic education department policy on sports in their daily duties our only truly summer national sport should be compulsory in every primary + secondary school, we will soon become 150kg fat asses tv critics if things dont change

  69. Step up to the plate Book and get on the SACA board!! I’m over cricket and it hasnt even started!!

    The problem with cricket at the moment is that there are no heros for kids to look up too…the Aussie team is boring!

  70. Hahahah. Great read from the legendary rulebook!!! Enjoyed gordos comment also. I only know a little bit about cricket in SA but from what I’ve heard I would have to agree with you. It is dying unfortunately. Kids and parents are leaning towards “easier” sports for the both of them.

    Being in the states has given me a really good look at sports over here and the amount of money that gets thrown around. College football games where I am at the moment have 80,000 plus fans consistently with some people willing to pay in excess of 500 bucks a game. Colleges over here have more money and resources than AFL clubs!!! I think a big issue is we don’t have the population to support lots of sports/sporting teams, and lots of people with money willing to pay big bucks to keep the game going or to “boost” the club.

  71. Marc Robinsom says

    A Great Topic well written with some fantastic posts thought the post by anonymous since reading others exposed as Matt Raymond is a fantastic post by obviously a fine young man

  72. I blame two things. The technological age in which we live which has led to ever decreasing attention spans amongst children and the introduction of 20/20 Cricket. The internet, social networking, skyping….everything has to happen right now. If you aren’t immediate and entertaining, you are considered obsolete.

    The ICC response to this was to introduce 20/20 cricket. It’s popularity on the subcontinent leading to the massive pay packets we see today. You know something isn’t right when players make more hitting and giggling with the Delhi Daredevils for a month than they do wearing the baggy green for a year.

    This in turn saw the rise of the globe trotting 20/20 cricketer. Spurning their national side to bowl 4 paltry overs a game or slog as many sixes as possible. When Dennis Lillee stuffed his back he worked his ass off for twelve months, dramatically changed his run up and bowling action so that he could once again represent his country. When Shaun Tait hit injury troubles, he packed it in with just 1 test to his name and went chasing the easy money.

    To me, 20/20 isn’t cricket. It’s a bastardised version of baseball where the fielders don’t wear gloves and the batsman gets to stay in after hitting a home run. Is it any wonder that not many of our young cricketers can build an innings of substance at Test level?? Where the red ball actually swings and seams and you need a little something called ‘technique’ to counter it.

    The few young people who have been attracted to 20/20 cricket have no appreciation for the nuances and subtleties of the traditional game. Now I realise that people said the same thing about the 50 over game when that was introduced. At least that took the whole day though. 100 overs is still a decent amount of cricket that requires some semblance of structure and planning from a team perspective. 20/20 cricket is just selling the games soul for 30 pieces of silver and we might never get it back.

  73. Have to agree again ashy, I fear for the game, as a parent now I know I would find it very difficult to get kids to an afternoon of cricket and two training sessions. Also with tough economic times I say things will get worse before they get better. Maybe the short form of the game is all we have to look forward to, but I hope test cricket lives on.

  74. Ray Ashwood says

    Interesting topic Malcolm as some , 1 who has scored in cricket for , 30 yrs I have noticed a gradual decline in the standard of cricket and how there are more fill ins for the odd game than regulars who played each game as say , 15 or so yrs ago
    I too am of the same opinion as a earlier post that , 20 20 is not real cricket .
    There are problems in the game I love I won’t be around to see the next chapter I hope the fantastic game of cricket comes back to it’s former glory

  75. Everything stated Rulebook is accurate. I have to admit, times are changing and there are many choices for kids which does not include sport, let alone cricket. Lifestyles change over generations and kids these days choose different pathways outside of sport. When the corporate dollar gets involved in the game of cricket (and all sport), we will find the great games in our Australian culture will become more insular. It wont be long that we will see further corporate dollars causing sport to develop as it has in American football where the game develops in the backyard, the high schools, the colleges and ends at Pro football status.

  76. Great article Rulebook – as a lifelong cricket fan and having played a season with the mighty Pembroke Kings, I can now see why quality experienced players have left the game to spend time with their families….something has to be done, and changes need to be made to keep great players like R. Signh and A. Leet in the game – it’s the only way the Gen Y’s and younger will learn how to truly play the game we all love.

    P.S Redlegs back to back 2012/2013!

  77. Book,
    Let’s not forget the only reason 90% of SACA members attend the test matches is the village green. Most may only see 1 or 2 overs. The atmosphere is great but it is not about the cricket.

  78. With, the political power base changing from the traditional English gentleman’s game to the sub-continent money game, there is no doubt that the longer form of the game is on the way out. Whilst the Ashes will always hold a place in the heart of the traditionalists, the new generation stars are the Chris Gayle’s and MS Dhoni’s who rather than making 200 are batting at a strike rate of 200. You’ve hit the nail on the head Book about the time it takes up to play. It goes against everything I believe in as a test cricket lover but T20 may well become the way to introduce kids to the game at a junior level or we may just find they don’t join at all.

  79. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Interesting that both Wunks and Neags mention , American sport and it is a huge concern in so many ways we are becoming more like them by the day
    Maritusz I agree with you in some ways as I don’t think overall irises is enough physical education in the corriculum but there are plenty of college kids who when it is compulsory they play scoop sport give it away after leaving school
    Goedo Beach cricket should be encouraged far more by cricket administration
    Watto , Willo , BG love your work
    Kainy spot on the cracker is certainly secondary to what goes on out the back
    Thanks folks

  80. Well done Book
    Agree with you and the other comments, it’s a real shame this great game is dying due to money hungry individuals, I have played and coached and now playing again with my 16 year old and it’s fantastic to be able to do that. I always used to take my young fella to cricket when I played and he had a ball as well as giving partner free time. When I started it was fantastic to play with more senior players who taught you the art of the game.

    It is too easy these days to make excuses that we are time poor, you have to make it happen and work around it.
    Get rid of 20/20 cricket or make it purely an over 35 year old game where all the legends can still play on.

  81. Malcolm unfortunately you are correct I blame this , Gen y trying them to take som responsibility make a commitment and actually show some initiative and follow thru
    Good luck ! Need to go back in time and fix society there are a lot of values from the past which would help everything

  82. Well done RuleBook, after being involved in coaching cricket for my 2 boys during their school days, I try and tell parents to NOT encourage their kids to play.
    # – It sucks up all your weekends
    # – you can’t go away for a weekend holiday somewhere
    # – you become a babysitter for other parent’s kids who just do the drop off and run, then you have to wait around as they are always late to pick them up
    # – if your son’s not the best player he is likely not to bat or bowl much (that’s one of the reason’s I put my hand up to coach)

    However I still enjoy watching it at the top level.

  83. rulebook, good article mate.

    It is staggering to think that people still play cricket. Think about it. A hot 40 degree day in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, playing some scrubber team from a sub-region of Salisbury, in a 2 day game. The ‘oval’ is a dusty old paddock with a fraying synthetic pitch, with less bounce than Pamela Anderson’s implants.
    Your team bat’s first, you’re in at 2nd drop, you make a paltry 7 off 15 balls, and then you sit either on the sidelines filling up the cordial bottles for drinks, help with the scoring, or perhaps the highlight being the square leg umpire for 10 overs, atracting melanoma and flies. You then come back next week, stand in the field from midday til 6, maybe bowl a couple of half track overs, and lose the game by 4pm, only for the scrubbers to want to keep batting til stumps.
    and we call that fun & recreation….

    Don’t get me wrong, i loved the 20 years i played cricket, but the older i get, I still cant work out why i enjoyed it so much…. maybe it was the drinking beers after the game, getting to hang out with mates, sledging the ferals from the slip cordon, and an excuse for wearing a greg chappel hat in public.

    with all that in mind, i cant wait for my son to be old enough to play, and for me to go and sit and waste countless hours on a saturday watching scoring and umpiring. Fingers crossed he is much much better than me, and plays for Australia…

  84. Agree – we have to find away to get more kids playing and participating, as well as keeping them interested, to ensure the playing stocks at the higher levels are continually restocked.

  85. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Paddles love your enthusiasm and that you are playing with your son well done !
    Hazza well put totally agree
    Sam C your thoughts are unfortunately well put and a worry for the future of the game but I am struggling to come up with any well reasoned debate to counter you
    Appo I agree but struggling with answers
    Ben Moore Pure Gold ! Frayed synthetic pitch with less bounce than , Pamela Andersons , Implants ! Fantastic Thanks every , 1

  86. I reckon the 2 biggest threats are:

    1. We knew who the best 11 or so were and they were idolised. Now Australia has 30 or so guys going through their squads (Test, ODI, T20) in the space of a year or three. Personally it’s all so diluted I don’t know who is who and barely care. Wake me up for the Tests against England and the World Cups, everything else, snooze.

    2. Soccer is now summer. It’s coming for us all. It’s consuming cricket as we speak, next will be NRL and it’s working on the AFL too. Mums want their kids to play less physical sports than AFL/NRL, kids (even at 10 years) look at the glamour and big contracts in soccer, and with immigration accounting for much of Australia’s population growth there’s an endless supply of fans that don’t need to be won over. Imagine if instead of AFL clubs spending $20 million on their football departments in a war against each other, instead they each put in $3 for grassroots footy – that’d be $54 million every year to ensure the sustainment of the sport. Anyway, I digressed away from cricket.

    So yes, everything Rulebook said and more. I hope we don’t end up in bland world where 95% of people only watch soccer and the other 5% just enjoy watching people smash each other’s head in at cage fighting.

  87. Malcolm, you know how I encourage children’s involvement in sport. I encourage all parents to give up some of their time to foster sporting activities for their children. It is extremely valuable for their fitness and it is a very socially rewarding time for parents and children. Ian l

  88. Mal that sadly is a great article. Great because of it’s accuracy and sad because it is the game we love. The comments from all and sundry hit the mark in so many ways. 

    On a personal level I grew up playing cricket in the backyard, frontyard, living room, hallway, roof, garage and street. We played til we ran out of equipment. Cricket balls, golf balls, ping pong balls, tennis balls, tennis balls half wrapped in PVC tape, tennis balls half dipped in glue, christmas decorations and torn off dolls heads all qualified as equipment. 

    Idols when bowling were Holding, Marshall, Garner, Roberts, Lillee, Thomo and Hogg. When batting Richards, Bradman, Lloyd, Grenich, Haynes, Miandad, Srikanth, G Chappell and Border.

    Perhaps ripping the head off your sisters doll and using it as a cricket ball does not compare to the latest graphics on Call
    Of Duty or whatever the hell the kids are into. 

    Perhaps Australia’s team is light on in talent or character or just not number one any more but the last time I looked we are a considerably more globalised society than when I was a kid. There is no shortage of players worldwide to idolize. 

    Having played since childhood I due to ill health and work load did not play cricket from about 21-34. As soon as I had improvement in both of these areas I returned. I have loved every minute of it and aim to play til the body completely throws in the towel. 

    With a young family it has been a miracle my household has tolerated my participation but I am hopeful to play well into the future. Despite wanting to kill me for not being home all day Saturdays my Missus values the mental respite cricket provides (for us both!) My son similarly not only appears to take pride in the fact that I still achieve something on a sports field but has learnt much from how men talk to one another and show respect. 

    I have not hit any highs in terms of standard of cricket I have played. But I swear I have had a 
    ball playing in Australia, Ireland & Canada. The happiest years of my life have all occurred whilst I played cricket. I don’t see this as a coincidence. 

    I too mourn the changes I see around me. I echo the concerns of others but wish to highlight the sadness I feel when playing against players who appear not to have respect for the game and it’s gentlemen origins. 

    It feels to me that the “spirit of the game” is going the way of the Dodo. Now oddly enough I don’t see this as a purely cricket phenomenon. 

    We as a society in the scheme of things are teenagers heading into our young adult years. Our household work commitments are increasing and hence social lives are being adjusted to accommodate. Many of the norms of our society are being tested. A new household balance will emerge and it appears any sport longer than 3 hours will be the victim and any sport without higher chances of making a quid will be overlooked. Unfortunately that is cricket in it’s more traditional form. 

    To me cricket is the sport that is closest to the arts. Because it is a measure of the societal wealth that scarce resources can be found to celebrate life in a way that seems incongruent with the economic restraints of daily life. 

    Like manufacturing I hope that traditional cricket oneday returns to the experience of our youth. 

    Great article Rulebook, it really has sparked peoples love of the game, keep ’em coming. 

  89. Totally agree with you & the other comments Ashy. Sadly it’s a reflection of our time poor society we live in these days. Unfortunately cricket is a sport you need to commit to completely or you’re wasting your time.

  90. Good read Book. I know that being involved in Milo cricket that participation at that level is high. Unfortunately it doesn’t tranlate through to higher grades. I know my wife always says that she’s not interested in sitting around all weekend at the cricket if our son chooses to continue to play. I guess that is typical of a lot of parents these days. That all said and done I’m still looking foward to the test in a few weeks. Hopefully a tight Ashes contest gets peoples enthusiasm up. You just can’t beat good quality test cricket as a game. It is so unique as a sport and there is nothing that offers the same level of intrigue and contest. Has to be evenly matched sides though otherwise it loses something.

  91. Matt Clinch says

    You’ve made some good points here Malcolm. I dont think people feel the same link with the national team as previous generations. It’s a real challenge for Cricket Aust to find a way to encourage the next generation when so much money is on offer in the T20 formats.

  92. You’ve covered just about everything Rulebook. Maybe you could be an advisor to Aust Cricket Board if you have any solutions.

    I also think cricket is on the way down in Australia.

    The fall of cricket in Australia is due to all of the reasons you mention but also as Flasher said in his post, the Australian teams have become sore losers and bad winners. I sometimes find myself barracking for New Zealand or even England because of their more pleasant attitude which is a quiet celebration of a wicket with a smile and a few jokes, the general attitude from all countries prior to the 1990s. The Australian team has just become angry, swearing at a dismissed batsmen – why can’t they take Darren Graetz’s advice and just be vitamin-D happy.

    Personally, I’m bored with any cricket other than a test match.

    Cricket may be dying in Australia but at least it’s growing in Italy.

  93. A very hot topic RB – the game has come up with lots of new formats to increase the participation numbers at the early years, especially with girls. the problem is where do they go after primary school finishes – it all gets too serious and/or there are not enough teams, coaches or facilities to accomodate them. CA needs to address the needs of community clubs far more because this is where 90% of the ‘average’ cricketers will end up. However, I think as long as the kids who have been through the entry level programs (MILO, HAVE A GO, BASH ETC) go on and become ‘fans’ (= cash paying) CA will be happy.

  94. I myself would not be playing cricket at this present time if it weren’t for a mate convincing me that there are an amazing bunch of blokes out at Pembroke CC and I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to play with such seasoned cricketers.
    It is hard sometimes to get to trainings with footy but I will make the effort when I can to attend.
    I have started to think I should take my cricket seriously and maybe give football the boot lately but I think it’s just the fact that AFL is a more popular sport and more opportunities to becoming ‘ELITE’ rather than in cricket which is what sways me towards AFL.
    I think kids need to be given the chance to get into cricket and that is where ‘have a go’ should come back into full swing and get kids involved again… because if my mate hadn’t said anything I would not be playing cricket that’s for sure!

  95. M l C H A E L W l L S 0 N says

    I also would like to thank that mate of yours wrighty otherwise I would never have got to see up close and personal you take hags to the boundary

  96. Malcolm Ashwood says

    John Northey More money is needed to be invested in all sports at grass groots level
    Ian L Love your enthusiasm re junior sport
    Neil P Eloquently put , Neil I agree with you on so many points but I would like to highlight , 1 the need for males to play sport and socialise and have there own life to some extent as well
    Matt Clinch and BD and numerous others not the same identification with the national team is a problem and , BD to some extent you are totally correct the Aussie teams behaviour at times has caused resentment from the sporting public
    Damian V good point I think you are right re cricket , Aust attitude and again we go back to more money must be invested at grass roots level
    Wrighty and anonymous , SENSATIONAL posts shows we are doing something right at
    Pembroke CC and we have got guys playing cricket for the right reason and in , 20 yrs time when the , 2 of you are telling your kids about the game against , Grange
    Uncle Michael will be on a frame bought from good guys chiming in about his part in our
    Win ! Go The Kings !

  97. Maybe you should put your articles through a grammar checker before posting them.

  98. OK. Now in all seriousness. I have lost interest in watching as much cricket as I used to as there is no structure to it. Just like the AFL test matches seem to be organised to maximise TV ratings and attendances. With cricket though there seems to be too much influence from the BCCI.

    Here are some points I would like to make.

    1 . The increasing professionalism has created a gap between the wealthy (and large populated) nations and the others. So much so that Zimbabwe and Bangladesh should no longer be classed as test playing nations. There also seems to be an increasing gap between the big five, ie India, England, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan and the next tier, ie Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West indies. Resulting in too many series between the big five and no interests in the rest.

    2. There are too many meaningless ODIs and no structure at an international level. Also the ODI World cup goes for too long. I would like to see five ODI series containing four teams every year. An Australasian series containing Australia, New Zealand and two guest nations, a North Atlantic series containing England, the West Indies and two guest nations, an African series containing South Africa, Zimbabweand two guest nations and two sub continental series (India, Sri Lanka and two guests and Pakistan, Bangladesh and two guest).

    3. Twenty20s are boring. They are just like indoor cricket where the team batting second has the run rate under control and wins comfortably or they fall behind the run rate and then go for the slog and fall further behind until the game fizzles out. Also the Twenty20 teams have little resemblance to the test team. There are a lot of Neville Nobodies that I don’t recognise. In the 80s and 90s (and even in the 00s) there was a lot of overlap between the test sides and the ODI sides. This is not the case anymore, especially for the Twenty20 team.

  99. Mal while in general I would rather face , Harold Larwood with no protection than engage in social media I was forced in too on this occasion you are right on the money , as a father of two sons who fall fair square into the categories outlaid ( probably all of them )
    I can relate to your frustration in relation to the development of our future cricketing talent ( or lack of it ) . My Brother and I actually played in a winning grand final with my old man when he was , 45 , so there you go . The golden summers of past where generations of families grew up ( especially in the country ) living and breathing cricket are long gone ( and Footy in the winter of course which will face the same issues down the track ) . Keep up the good fight but you may be on the wrong side of sporting history .

  100. Fantastic analysis Rulebook.

    It’s partly labour market deregulation – stopping long hours of leisure for cricket and family time as working hours intensify. and its party technology. when my daughter asks me what computer games I played as a kid I said “None. I had a bat and a ball and some times pads and played cricket all summer long in the Highgate Primary nets”.

    And as I said to Adam Gilchrist in Mumbai : “Gilly I had planned to be test keeper for Australia but instead thought I should wear the baggy green as Austrade chief economist, so the job is yours.”

  101. Malcolm I really enjoyed your article and had a good read of all the posts after it was shown to me.
    It would be truly disappointing if cricket wasn’t a part of our Australian culture as it represents a game still steeped in tradition. A game were boys and men and women still find mateship and enjoyment in playing a game that still exists mainly unchanged in its purest form for generations. A game where men and boys still wear cricket whites and tattoos and fancy hair cuts have no place.
    As a cricket widow and a member of a very time poor family unit (exacerbated more so now that we have an infant son and I have returned to work), I would much rather have a husband off playing cricket on a Saturday afternoon and training during the week and have him be a happy father and role model than have him at home moping about wishing he was playing cricket. Yes sacrifices have to be made and mainly it was my own sporting interests but it is important to him and in turn important to me. I know that we have discussed it and JB will play until he doesn’t enjoy it anymore. I hope that he then will be involved in the game at other levels.
    The importance of a team: Pembroke OS has an amazing team morale and it shows that paying players doesn’t always bring success on or off the field. A bunch of individuals may one day win a premiership but at what cost? Team is important and ensuring that the young guys are supported and given opportunity are key. People will always want to play a game when they enjoy it and the people they are playing with.
    As far as the future goes I know for a fact I would much rather watch my son play cricket on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon outside in the fresh air than be stuck in a stuffy smelly gym watching basketball.
    I hope that for future generations the sport will still be in demand and that ovals wont disappear to high density living subdivisions as I feel that this too will put pressure on sporting organisation’s as our increasing population encroaches on these community spaces.

  102. Sam Ashwood says

    Good job dad this has got to be your best one yet

  103. John Butler says

    Rulebook, the discussion here covers so much ground I’ll restrict my comments mainly to your article.

    I’m wary of saying the game is dying. Test cricket is supposed to have been dying for a very long time now. But there’s no doubt cause for concern over many of the issues you and others raise here.

    My concern centers around the policies and influences that flow down from Cricket Australia. They continue to do many good things, but so they should given they have more resources at their disposal than ever. But I wonder about the number of ex football people in senior CA positions now. They have introduced many football concepts to cricket. I remain unconvinced the cultures of the two sports have that much in sympathy.

    To take one example, the idea of development squads. It grew out of football. As a club junior coach of a promising kid (now an experienced Premier League player), I could see how he benefited from aspects of it, but could also see how it detracted fro the club/district/state/country pyramid that had served cricket so well for a long time. It also helped the game build a bureaucracy that has become its own raison d’etre .

    Likewise the changes to the Big Bash. Clubs instead of states, memberships, etc. These are football notions. I still think they feel phony for cricket.

    Re juniors, the game has always had elements of hard sell about it. It does demand more skill to meaningfully participate than some other sports.That is both a challenge and a selling point. Drop off rates for 15-16 year olds have been high for 40 years. That’s just the way it will be. The trick is to hang onto enough.

    Available time is no doubt an issue. Different levels need to stay in touch with their constituencies, rather than bowing to demands from above. CA should also do more to resource clubs, minimizing the cost to individuals where possible. I would like to see more tv money flow through to grassroots than I think is likely will happen.

    Those who raise the issue of credibility are spot on. It’s much harder to win back than to lose. Sports without credibility won’t generally attract all those sponsors.

    I think the game is going through a difficult period at present. IPL, the rise of Indian money and power, these have proved unsettling to the game’s common purpose . But this doesn’t have to be permanent. I remain an optimist. Cricket has such an appeal that it would take truly monumental recklessness from those who run it to kill it. At least I hope I’m right.

    Great discussion. Cheers.

  104. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dan I like the championship idea in principal again getting boards to work for the good of the game and not the money easier said than done .
    Georgo and , Plug you both highlight how we have changed as a society and how we don’t just get out and play sport like we used too
    the time poor aspect , bloody video games blow them up I reckon but seriously I don’t have a answer any 1 else ?
    Donna fantastic post rom a quality person , I too firmly believe that providing a quality environment having a great morale will keep and encourage others to play . I have always held the view that paying players in amateur sport is the root of evil it causes class differences and factions to occur in clubs yep might win a premiership but that is not the b all and end all !
    John enjoyed your post and agree football ideals don’t necessarily work for cricket , I hate the big bash where it is completely different sides and you lose your state base yes population wise it makes sense to split , Vic and , Nsw are but do it by a actual area and create the rivalry from there give me , SA back !
    Money down to grass groots level is so important it is a expensive game and there must be more done to encourage and keep peole in the game it is vital to give every , 1 the chance to be involved in cricket
    The drop off problem is huge and any encouragement is vital the above point again is vital as is providing a enjoyable environment where every , 1 is treated equally
    We all hope the game can grow and thrive I wish I was more optimistic Thanks . John
    Thanks Sam ! Enjoying the feed back

  105. Tony Feleppa says

    Well said from all.
    Everything is pretty well covered.
    I believe there is a lot more sporting options (varieties) at school level nowadays. It used to be just footy and cricket.
    The enthusiastic children will still play their most enjoyable sport and the not so enthusiastic will play their video games.
    Bring on 20/20 in a full season competition as a different option for the time disadvantaged. There is probably more chance of creating a club environment, as do footy clubs.

  106. Mahatma Coat says

    Book – I played a year of cricket as an 8 or 9 year old, then tee-ball for a year or two and eventually baseball for 10 years. Am not sure I enjoyed playing cricket all that much as I remember the pitch being too long to get a decent delivery down the other end (even witnessed the same problen the other week in a junior game (maybe year 8s) going on at the local school). Tee-ball and baseball shrink the diamond to suit the size of the participants, but I know there is In-2-Cricket these days which does a similar thing for the very young players. I think the change away from cricket was driven by the Saturday morning time commitment – and that was in the 80s.

    I did play again in my mid to late 20s and really enjoyed it. Eventually being committed to something every Saturday afternoon, winter and summer, led me to scale back to football only.

    Despite playing baseball I remained a cricket fan. Australia were not a lot of chop when I first started watching . I recall India pasting us at the SCG on one occasion and thinking what was wrong. Then AB led the team to an Ashses win in ’89 and the tide slowly turned – maybe all the way when we beat West Indies over there in a test series in the early 90s. I think that kids will be (test) cricket fans as it is still on commercial TV and they will be subjected to it. It might only take one or two to initiate a school yard match and a few might become lifelong fans. Not sure if this will lead to lifelong participation. Also unsure of what is wrong with the national administration, given that most of the country sees that selecting a side and letting them play together (even if they lose for two years) will in the end build a team with strong relationships and good results. I think that other countries have also failed to plan for the future (England for the period after we won the Ashes in ’89; West Indies for the period following the mid-90s), so we are not alone there. Instant gratification for sponsors through being assocaited with successful teams might have something to do with the lack of a long term vision and patience with talented, but developing, players. (On this note there seems to be a fixation with everyone having a perfect batting/bowling technique. I watch a lot of MLB and many of the most effective hitters have a less than perfect stance or are constantly moving until the piitch is delivered, yet they all shift into a good hitting position as the pitcher’s arm reaches the top of the delivery motion. Maybe Hughes could be cut some slack and left to gain experience in the international arena.)

  107. Matt Wojcik says

    Great article Book. From a former weekend deliverer of medium luke warm nude meat pies still in the wrapper, 90% of the reason I finished up was time committments. It’s sad but unfortunately time constraints on the modern family are higher than ever mate.

  108. Hi Rulebook,
    Great topic!
    I agree whole heartedly with you.
    In a world of time poor folk we find ourselves with less & less spare time to go around. I gave up playing at 35. I loved my cricket. The team comradery. The mind games on the field, the sledging (tastefull of course). The 5 plus hours in “MAN LAND”. It’s like a chess game on the field. Constantly working out weaknesses, avoiding your oppositions strengths. I have made a lot of friends both on our team and the opposition. There is respect for great players, for & against your team. It is truly a unique game, one knws this best if you are a player. Its NOT always a great spectator sport, especially in the wifey’s eyes!
    How can you play a game for 5 days and end in a draw is a common statement made. Even draws can be exciting, and were moments away from a victory.
    My wife HATES the game, was regularly having a dig at me when i got home from a game.
    so there were no stories told to her after a game where a mate took a hat trick, a ton, a ripper catch etc. This was one of the main reasons for giving it away. Another age. But the main reason was that i couldn’t spare the time anymore.
    My job demands more of me, in fact more of me than my sport ever did.
    My family demands my time (they are most important of course)
    In saying all this, i love the game and have never tried to push my lad into it because of its time consumption. I would of loved to watch him play, again, i would not be able to spare him the time & vice versa.
    That’s why it’s dying a slow death in MY opinion.

    Kind Regards,
    Troy

  109. Why is cricket dying?

    A number of commenters have pointed out that junior participation rates, revenue, gate takings, TV ratings and the like are at an all time high.

    Perhaps the real question is why do cricket lovers feel like cricket is dying when the numbers are so strong. Perhaps because some of the key elements of cricket as we knew it are in very poor shape indeed.

    Grassroots cricket, in which I would include country, turf and grade (or district as it was) has suffered a serious decline in quality. Most of this is attributable to a drop in participation of mature adults, who no longer have the time to devote a full day to a pastime. One weekend in my youth when I was playing district cricket sticks out as an example. On Saturday we played Southern Districts at Bice Oval. Back then 100 overs in the day was the minimum. Play started at 10.30am. With warm up at 9.30am, that meant leaving home at 8.30am. Play continued until after 6pm. Didn’t get home until well after 7. On Sunday we had a one day game against Elizabeth at Joel Garner park. Another 100 overs for the day with a similar schedule. Now I was 19 at the time, living with my parents, so family or work commitments weren’t an issue. All the same, as much as I loved cricket, by the end of the weekend I felt ripped off and bloody weary. I’m not sure how much scheduling has changed, but play on Sunday and long days must still be fairly normal. At some stage an assessment has to be made as to whether the value of playing first class hours as a development exercise is outweighed by the exodus of players from the game. I contrast the relative toil of my days in district cricket with the incredible enjoyment I gained from playing casual 40 over cricket with mates later in life. Half our side had played district cricket and all of us were thankful and relieved to finally find a way to enjoy the sport that was compatible with our other priorities in life. Administrators must wake up to this or adult participation will continue to wane.

    The second and more concerning aspect of cricket’s decline in the eyes of the purist is the fragility of Test cricket. I have no time for 20/20, and only slightly more for one day cricket (perhaps with the exception of the World Cup). I have huge faith in Test cricket’s appeal as the ultimate challenge in team sport, the most intellectually enthralling, endlessly fascinating, dramatically gripping and unpredictable sport in the world. What is a gnawing concern to me is the apparent indifference to Test cricket of the Indian public and cricket authorities. Test matches rarely sell out in India, in a country of a billion people. TV ratings are not as impressive as those for 20/20. Media coverage suffers by comparison too. The games are a poor second cousin to the more lucrative TV-centric formats. It is almost like the BCCI is intentionally degrading the interest in the product to ensure that the primary emphasis of the consumer is on the format that brings in the most money. With the BCCI’s huge influence and resources, they are in a position to elevate Test match cricket to the pre-eminent stage that it deserves. Ask yourself why this has not happened. Long term this will be a huge problem. I am sure that there are many cricket purists in India who cherish Test cricket. But its current second-tier status in the commercial arena will have an enormous effect if left unchecked.

  110. Jamie Mason says

    Agree Rulebook. Kids not prepared to spend hours outside bowling against brick walls. Instant gratification of 20/20 is symptomatic of cricket’s decline.

  111. Tend to agree with point 1. Last weekend I was in Melbourne for a running event (which will bring me to my point later) staying with my aunt and cousins. I tagged along to see the 14 year old cousin play netball, arrive 30 minutes before the start, play for an hour and leave 15 after play. Same with the 12 year old cousin with his basketball (played in Nunawading), except the game was over in about 40 minutes. They’re also both games where everyone gets a touch. Tellingly both were played on Saturday AFTERNOON rather than Saturday or Sunday morning which has been the traditional time for junior sports.

    The other thing which I have also found with my running is to do with training. It’s almost DEMANDED that players at all age groups turn up for training, otherwise they won’t be able to play that weekend. For juniors that can be once or twice a week for 60-90 minutes on top of their studies, plus travel time to and from training venue. From my perspective, running training is easy for me, just set my own time (usually 4:30AM) and run for as long as I need to as quick as I need to to nobody else’s agenda.

  112. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Another reason while briefly pointed out by , Sean has really struck a chord with me due to , Steves excellent , Xmas street cricket article I wonder how many peoples , 1st introduction to the game came from these games as this has declined due to a myriad of reasons and there for don’t develop this initial interest in the game of cricket

  113. Great work Rulebook. Given the number of comments here, perhaps you should be producing a sports radio show?!?!?!!

    I think the time factor is significant. People have mentioned increasing workplace demands and so forth, but my understanding is that schools also now place significant demands on their students to participate in school programs as opposed to club-based competitions. I know this is certainly the case in Victoria in footy, and the school competitions are fertile recruiting grounds for the TAC Comp.

    And yes following on from my street cricket post, I wonder how many kids these days are living and breathing sport the way previous generations were? We would set up scratch matches in the school yard and also get games going at home after school. Given the pressures on kids to succeed academically do kids these days even have a choice in getting out after school and kicking the footy around in the street or rolling the arm over in the driveway?

    Soccer, Netball and Rugby have a World Cup.Basketball and swimming have the Olympics, Rugby League has the intensity of Origin while Tennis, Golf and AFL promise financial security. Cricket’s World Cup is played on the 50 over format, which if TV ratings are any indication, seems to be heading to the ‘endangered species’ categories and Cricket’s World Cup seems (to me anyway) to have credibility issues given that Test and T20 cricket seem to be attracting larger audiences.

    Sadly I don’t have any answers to this Rulebook. Hopefully it’s just cyclical and as other people have suggested, we THINK cricket’s in trouble more than it actually is.

    Then again, it could be that kids see numpties at the cricket with hollowed out watermelons or empty Fried Chicken buckets on their heads and think; “give me a spell, I’m off to the A-League”

  114. Edward Thomas says

    As a former junior cricket growing up, it is incredible how much lack of care is going into school cricket now. With rule changes coming into play giving everyone a fair go (and although on paper it is the right thing to do) it isn’t real cricket and in turn kids don’t want to play it. As well as this, schools take the easier option of putting in a hard wicket, causing less maintenance issues, however personally, I hated it. Nothing worse than the ball bouncing unnaturally.
    As well as this, the amount of time cricket is consuming is a lot. When players take a holiday or break from cricket the amount of free time becomes almost as temptation to quit.

  115. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Have read thru the comments posted again this morning am in a reflective mood it will be interesting if Austs success this summer has long term benefits re participation rates in the game . A consistent point made by so many is time poor, administrators of the game must be as innovative as possible to get the most number of participants as possible because in the cold light of day winning losing etc doesn’t matter it is playing a active sport and the life lessons learnt is the important thing

  116. James roder says

    Interesting article mate. One point worth considering is that relative to a generation ago many many kids don’t grow up having a back yard due to increased living density. Considering that the backyard was the traditional venue for early love for the game to develop its easy to see how kids are less enamoured with the game.

  117. There is certainly an issue of ensuring the best players stay involved in the game for longer whilst helping Grade level becomes viable & strong in developing first class cricketers. You could put a blanket over about 12-15 issues from primary school cricket all the way to grade cricket.

    Here is hoping Cricket Australia assist the state associations to increase resources at grass roots (Clubs & Schools) rather than seeing David Warners Australian payments increase each year (and the other aussie internationals) whilst they are getting $500-$1M playing in comps not representing Australia (which is fine when they don’t have aussie commitments), which enables them to buy $5M bondi beach mansions. Aussie Cricketers should be paid upto $1M per year in total from Australian Cricket if you play every game, but shouldn’t be getting pay increases from CA whilst grass roots issues are increasing and standards are declining due to the 12-15 issues we confront today, not just in the game of cricket itself, but society.

    Here is hoping the SACA, with the work completed by the Grade Review combined with the current Premier League can help SA born & bred cricketers at first class level today and tomorrow, but more importantly in the future.

    Will be interesting to see what the SA cricket landscape looks like in 2 years time. Whatever it will be, here is hoping we are producing more Greg Blewett’s, Darren Lehmans and Jason Gillespies to represent SA and Australia.

  118. Malcolm Ashwood says

    James Totally agree re the backyard it is a huge problem
    Ben to say I totally agree with you is a massive understatement ! Thanks guys

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