Opinion: Cricket simply has to do more to grow the game amongst young people!

We must do more for young players who want to take up the game of cricketWe must do more for young players who want to take up the game of cricket
We must do more for young players who want to take up the game of cricket
All games except one in the Nicholas Associates South Yorkshire League were abandoned during the course of a very wet Saturday.

The one that survived was played on the most northerly ground of Tickhill and largely escaped the weather that drenched the rest.

Tickhill only just missed promotion to the new premier league last season; had they taken one more wicket in the penultimate game, they would have got there and on Saturday, they showed why, trouncing the runaway league leaders Hallam by 108 runs.

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Batting first, Ashler Fiddler and James Stuart, showing crucial application, rescued a poor start and with further contributions from the tail and despite another fine bowling performance by Mark Williams (5-35 in 14 overs), accumulated 191-9.

Hallam responded poorly, without application or even the determination to survive until the rains came. Stuart completed a great personal day by taking 4-7 and Dominic McGough added 4-31, as Tickhill bowled them out for 83.

Frustratingly, Elsecar, Wath and others were denied the opportunity to take advantage of Hallam’s demise by the rain. Wath got closest, bowling Coal Aston out for 87, Rob Barlow taking 4-20, Shawn Dyson 3-13, then moving to 13-1 in 3 overs before the heavens opened.

Elsecar managed only 12 overs against Collegiate seconds who, very cautiously, made 27-0.

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Whiston’s Danny Kemp returned to form with 74* out of 121-2 in 34 overs against Kexborough, but it counted for nought. Conisbrough made 132-7 against Houghton Main, Arosh Janoda having his customary flurry at the end (37*) - 26 coming in five balls. And Darfield had Rotherham Town on the rack at 52-6 in 22 overs, Waqas Maqsood taking 4-24.

No other games were completed in Divisions One and Two - giving Thorncliffe their fourth abandoned game out of six - all of which makes next weekend even more frustrating.

As though the football season doesn’t go on long enough and we’re not going to have further distraction from the European Championships, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley’s play-off games at Wembley are disrupting player availability and some senior matches are being postponed. In Yorkshire!

It is so difficult to get cricket taken seriously now. Children at school get little opportunity to play; unlike some other countries, there’s nothing on TV, except for the already committed and wealthy, who are willing to spend a fair slice of the family budget on Sky.

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The football season goes on and on, with huge pressure on children, with replays and play-offs and pre-season tournaments.

Several small cricket clubs have had to withdraw from the junior leagues this season because their potential players were all playing football, and when the sun comes out and there are a few days before the football machine starts up again, the children look round for something else to do and the clubs aren’t there.

The future of cricket is in the clubs. The South Yorkshire League knows that and requires all clubs to have functioning, effective junior sections across the age groups. Houghton Main’s swingeing 21 point fine for non-compliance last season is a demonstration of that.

So is the league’s refusal to accept the admission of clubs from other leagues unless they meet the criteria on juniors and Clubmark. It’s not enough to make successful teams by buying players... you have to grow the sport or the supply of good players - of any players - will just dry up. It takes hard work and commitment, and every time we stop play, when we could have played, at Test or junior or club level, we weaken that commitment to the game.

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