Opinion

Not out idea a great introduction to sport

by
December 05, 2017

A new ruling in junior cricket means each batter will spend a mandatory time at the crease.

No getting out in junior cricket?

It was the new ruling that generated plenty of air time in the lead up to the Adelaide Test match.

Again the issue of wrapping children in cotton wool was presented, but Cricket Australia’s new rules meaning each batter will spend a mandatory time at the crease go beyond that.

The fear was that it was moving junior cricket into the same division as Riddell District Football League, which capped winning margins for junior games this season.

But Cricket Australia has carefully formulated the best approach, although Test great Merv Hughes slammed the fact ducks are essentially banned.

‘‘You’re teaching kids that it’s okay to go out and I reckon that’s ridiculous,’’ Hughes said on 3AW radio.

He makes a valid point that knowing when to defend is just as important as being able to play an assortment of shots.

Given players have only 17 balls to do damage, Cricket Australia has measures in place so they do not all enter the arena with a Glenn Maxwell mindset.

The loss of a wicket does have a consequence with four runs added to the total of the bowling team.

Other recommendations that came through were much to do with the size of boundaries and weight of cricket balls.

Much seemed destined to help batsmen as the boundaries have been brought in and team sizes reduced.

As sides have decreased from the traditional 11 players to seven, after taking out the bowler and the wicketkeeper it means there are just five fielders scattered across the ground.

While it seems like a batter’s paradise with gaps everywhere, Cricket Shepparton junior co-ordinator Steve Dalitz said it was far from that.

He said the shorter pitch had worked in the favour of bowlers who can more accurately stick to a quality line and length, rather than struggling to make the distance.

As a result, Cricket Australia’s trials showed a 35 per cent decrease in wides and no-balls, with a 53 per cent increase in balls of a good length.

Fewer fielders also mean that each player is more involved in the contest with more ground under their guard.

But cricket is all about patience, a test of concentration and the ability to snap into gear when needed.

One of the unique features of the sport is standing for an hour or more in the field and not touching the ball.

But understandably having to deal with that is not how Cricket Australia wants participants to be introduced to cricket.

Instead, the governing body has valued time in the middle on game day as the best way to learn.

Originally, I would have considered time at training and in the nets the way to do that and not giving players a guaranteed number of balls to face.

But once cricketers enter under-14s, and even A-grade in the under-12 Cricket Shepparton competition, the game begins to revert back to its more traditional roots.

These rules work with a young age group and should they ever be expanded beyond primary school age is when there would be an issue.

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