Country NSW will play a leading role in the continued roll out of Australian cricket’s new junior formats for children in the under-10-to-13 age groups after the state’s NSW Country Cricket Committee voted unanimously to implement them in this summer’s representative calendar.
It is recommended that the Stage 2 Representative (Junior) Formats will be applied to Inter-council matches within Zones, an important pathway for country players to develop their skills.
According to Bruce Whitehouse, the manager for NSW Country Cricket Programs, these players will vie for selection - when they’re old enough - in their Zone teams to compete in the prestigious under-14 Kookaburra Cup and under-16 Bradman Cup; competitions which provided the likes of internationals Phillip Hughes, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and 2017-18 Steve Waugh Medallist Daniel Hughes with their stepping stones.
The new Junior Formats allow boys and girls in the under-10-to-13s to play on grounds with shorter boundaries, smaller pitches and they also ensure each player is given the opportunity to bat and bowl.
While representative matches have 11 players on a team, community club teams have either seven or nine players depending on the age group.
The formats have already been adopted by 85 percent of all Junior Cricket Associations throughout NSW and have been praised for energizing the game because the matches are crammed with non-stop action.
The Stage 2 Representative Formats were trialled with great success across Australia last summer in Bunbury, the SACA Country Championships, Cricket Albury Wodonga’s Country Week and trial games in Queensland.
Mr Whitehouse said the data Cricket Australia had compiled detailing the benefits derived from the new Junior Formats compelled the committee to embrace them.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “The question that needs to be asked is why did it take so long to do this?
“Other sports have modified their games to cater for the physical capabilities of young children. The success of the new Junior Formats across Australia has been tremendous, and it also meant the NSW Country Cricket Committee of management realised it was the way to go.
“It’s important to adapt and suit the needs of all children. Thanks to the new Junior Formats we have a game that ensures more runs are scored, more wickets are taken, there’s more fielding, and, just as importantly, children have a great time playing it.”
Mr Whitehouse’s enthusiasm for the new Junior Formats was shared by Narromine’s Glenn McGrath, who is noted in the record books as Test cricket’s most successful fast bowler.
McGrath, who captured 563 Test wickets, described the decision to shorten the pitch to 16m for under 10/11 players and 18m for under 12/13s as one that provides children with the opportunity to learn to bowl properly.
“It’s a great change and it should probably have happened a long time ago because 22-yards is a long way for little tackers to bowl,” he said. “They need to lob the ball to get it down the other end.
“I think the changes are a matter of common sense, and they should also allow for some kids to develop their style from a young age.”
McGrath said the obvious benefit of shortening the pitch would be a reduction in the number of wides and sundries that plagued many of the early-aged matches his son played in.
“James was OK because he had control of the ball,” said McGrath. “However, when the ball is rolling and hitting the side of the pitch you could see it would get frustrating (for the batter and bowler) and you just knew there’d be those kids who’d think ‘why bother’ because when wides and no balls are being constantly bowled it’s not inspiring.”
As a young cricketer who was made to field well away from the action because his captain thought he lacked any talent, McGrath welcomed that the new Junior Formats ensure every child gets the chance to bat, bowl and to get their hands on the ball in the field.
“That’s what it’s about, participation and getting a go,” said McGrath. “If a kid is turning up to play cricket of a weekend and they’re not getting a bat or a bowl, they’re going to ask what’s the point in being there? I think the key is to give the kids at that age a go and to keep it enjoyable for them.”
STAGE 2 REPRESENTATIVE FORMATS (Under 12/13)
- Time: 120 or 240 mins
- Overs per team: T20 or max 40
- Pitch Length: 18m
- No. of Players: 11
- Fielding Restrictions imposed to encourage positive stroke play Boundary Maximum: 50m
- Ball Size: 142g
For more information please visit: http://community.cricket.com.au/clubs/junior-formats