Doggy's Blog

Grass Roots Cricket Concerns

Posted on 16 June, 2019 at 20:20

You might remember the scandalous Cricket Australia (CA) pay dispute where highly paid executives and Board Room Directors, shamefully used Grass Roots Cricket as a pretence to reduce player payments. It turns out however, that it is the top players who are more concerned about the game and that is the way it has been since the early 1840’s?

In truth it is the “best of the best” the top guns who bring in the big dollars for the game and development whilst executives secretly plot to remove the responsibilities from the State bodies elected by players and past playing members all over Australia.

An example of this came to our attention just last week when the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) representing the players announced that it will be providing $30 million to Grass Roots Cricket Clubs from their payments, but wait for it… in conjunction with CA.

Oh scoff & splutter!! I nearly spilt my coffee… who earns that money?

Thanks to the players… Clubs can now apply for $2500 grants through the ACA website and it is a terrific gesture but was it necessary… where is the rest of the money earned by the players? Has it been handed over to the State Association in order to distribute it to Grass Roots Cricket to produce the type of talent the game needs to attract future dividends?

But it raises the question… what exactly is it that CA do?

I expect them to be responsible for International Affairs reporting back to players and past playing members, organizing International and national fixtures, negotiating TV rights, National Teams and collecting the money generated by the best of the best players… and that is all they should be doing.

From the pot of money collected, CA expenses should be paid and the remainder of the very substantial financial wind fall should go to development of the game as determined by each State Association.

I can see this $30 mil being pissed against the wall.

Remember those who participated in CA’s Milo cricket throughout Australia where Parents paid $60 to register their child’s interest in the hope they might learn cricket skills. Apart from the Milo spectacle put on during the lunch break of Test matches it was a disgraceful failure... a bloody embarrassment where the $60 went to CA.

That is CA supporting Grass Roots Cricket while Cricket outside metropolitan areas of Australia is dying!

I guess it’s because I’m from a small country town myself, that the trend alarms me. I began my cricket in Yarck… Yeah I know! "Where the farck is Yarck?"

Yarck is a farming community situated on the Maroondah Hwy which runs north beside the eastern face of Strathbogie Range 14 miles north of Yea and 9 miles from Alexandra to the South East.

Yarck C.C. played in the Alexandra District Cricket Association against Eildon, Marysville, Thornton, three Alexandra teams and Taggerty… but that was many years ago, today the entire Region struggles to field a cricket team.

Just over the range from Yarck to the North West is Euroa where Australian fast bowler Mervyn Hughes was born to play. Euroa made up the Euroa District Cricket Association and further to the north-west between Shepparton and Echuca where the Goulburn meets the Murray River... Australian Test players Matthew Elliott and Jim Higgs learned their cricket in the Kyabram District Cricket Association... they too are extinct.

These are just two of the many Cricket Associations from outside the Metro area all over the country that have folded and in my opinion; nothing of any real consequence has ever been done to solve the problem associated with dwindling numbers. Many reasons have been put forward but nothing to address the issues that might rejuvenate interest or enthusiasm… just lip service.

There are other reasons why am I so concerned about the money going to Grass Roots Clubs… it is because Cricket Clubs these days are all about paying players to bolster the clubs senior side in order to win trophies. In real terms these players have had their chance to advance in the game and are only interested in themselves and what they can get from the game.

Pay Players or investment in junior infrastructure… what should your club do?

"Grass Roots Cricket" in any sense of the phrase is not Senior Grade Cricket and it’s not "Community Cricket", it is those who’ve been attracted to the game in attempt to emulate their idols.

This money offered by the games top players has been done with all the best intentions and should be applied to coaching structures for the grass roots cricket… the children starting out in the game. Skill stations set up about the ground were the kids rotate and participate in drills that will see them develop technique and the confidence to execute the disciplines of the game. Where they learn of its history and traditions handed down by those they wish to emulate… because someday these children will be handing it down to others when their time comes.

Children taught properly learn quickly and progress to competition levels where they should be given every encouragement created by the opportunity of advancement... by producing accomplished cricketers they will have greater confidence and enthusiasm for the game as they progress to higher levels reducing the need for patch up coaching.

I have no doubt this is the best way forward for cricket anywhere. Paying players in an attempt to win medals means nothing compared to the reward of having a youngster representing your club on a Test Arena.

If you were like me you’d remember your time as a child... eagerly wait for his father to come home to bowl to him in the back yard or out in the street. Yes! I like you dreamed of the day I would have the skill to play Test cricket and fortunately I had someone who encouraged and coached me at an early age.

The game has been neglected and development programs have been so out of place that participation numbers have plummeted and this is a stat that belongs to those who voted CA into a position where they’ve been able to dismantle the Governance structures that were not broken.


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