JUNIOR CRICKET TRANSFORMATION IN FULL SWING

A young boy and young girl in action during a T20 Blast program

A young boy and young girl in action during a T20 Blast program Image: Cricket Australia

Junior cricket in Australia will be transformed next summer to deliver more fun, action and superior skill development – all in a timeframe to suit today’s busy lifestyle.

Children in Under 10/11s (Stage 1) and Under 12/13s (Stage 2) will play games:

  • On a shorter pitch to suit the players size and physical capabilities
  • With shorter boundaries
  • With fewer fielders, to increase on-field activity
  • Where everyone has an opportunity to bat
  • In which each player bowls
  • That are finished in two hours for Stage 1, and three hours for Stage 2.

Australian Cricket confirmed earlier this month that the new formats will be rolled out over the next three years.

These changes follow a nationwide pilot that was staged during the 2016/17 season and involved 15 junior associations (including the ACT), 171 clubs and 640 teams in the Under 10-to-16 age groups.

Among the improvements in the new junior formats - were:

  • 53% more balls in play (bowled on a good length)
  • 13% more balls hit
  • 16% more of the balls hit forward of square
  • 24% less ‘dot’ balls (where there is no runs scored) bowled
  • 35% decrease in the runs from wides and no balls in the total score.

“The changes provide more appropriate game formats, pitch length and number of players on the field for children at various stages of their development and experience,” said former national captain Belinda Clark, who oversaw the pilot in her role as Cricket Australia’s Senior Manager, Team Performance.

“We found players were more engaged in games played under the pilot’s conditions compared to formats where 11 players are on the field and playing on an adult-length wicket.

“It’s exciting to think that, as a result of the revised junior formats, children will no longer have to struggle with playing in conditions suited for adults. They’ll now progress through two stages that will ensure they learn to play cricket in an environment that meets their physical, mental and emotional development.

“We found the quality of the game and activity levels most significantly enhanced by these changes include:

  • More accurate bowling, meaning more balls were in play
  • More balls being hit by the batter - and to more parts of the field
  • More runs scored, we saw children hitting boundaries like their heroes
  • More activity in the field.

“These formats move so quickly that one ‘problem’ was scorers struggling to keep up with the action! It’s a great dilemma and we’re fixing it by making the scoring of the game easier . . . we definitely won’t be slowing the play down.”

Australian Cricket listened to feedback from all parties who were involved in the pilot – including staff in the field, coaches, officials, parents and children – and the new formats have accommodated changes that were suggested by the junior cricket community. The ACT cricket community were particularly active in their feedback which has really helped shaped the final product.

While the pilot demonstrated benefits to players in the Under 14 and Under 15 age groups, it was decided to make younger players the focus of the revised junior formats at both club and representative level because the impact will be more significant on their development.

“We’re pinpointing the Under-10 to 13 age levels to ensure their skill development is facilitated after MiloIN2Cricket and MiloT20Blast,” said Clark.

“Our focus for 2017/18 is to encourage boys and girls to take up an entry level program so that, by the time they’ve progressed through the junior cricket stages, they’ll arrive at the Under 14s with a skill level that has prepared them for adult conditions.”

The revised junior formats will also be included in Under-12/13 representative cricket after further analysis identified a series of positive impacts.

 “We noticed some key benefits at representative level was the pace and trajectory of the ball (for both fast and spin bowlers), while players also faced the challenge of needing to find solutions for situations that evolve more quickly in the game,” said Clark.

“Captains and bowlers found they had to meet the challenges of bowling with more pace and accuracy because there’s more gaps in the field; fielders realised they needed to be more mobile - and dynamic - to cover more area.”

Cricket Australia and Cricket ACT would like to acknowledge the support, feedback and leadership provided by junior cricket in Canberra. The trials took place in country and metropolitan areas, and those involved have played a crucial role in helping to shape the future of junior cricket in Australia.

Cricket ACT
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April 28th 2017
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