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Spirit of Cricket - Junior Formats

“Junior formats has improved the experience for boys and girls as it allows them to play under conditions that suit their age and ability. It’s introduction in 2017 highlighted cricket has the capability to adapt to generational change.”

In 2017, Cricket NSW joined Cricket Australia, as well as its States and Territories in introducing what the hierarchy identified as a desperately needed change to a tradition-steeped sport.

The introduction of junior formats included:

• Shortening the length of the pitch to 16m  for Stage 1 (under-11s, and 18m for Stage2, the under-12s and 13s)

• Reducing the size of the boundary to 40/45m

• Cutting the number of fielders from 11 to nine

• Guaranteeing every child aged between 9-12 the chance to bat and bowl

• Having games finish in less time than the traditional 11-a-side format.

  

Former Australia captain Greg Chappell, regarded as the finest batter of his era in the 1970s and early 80s, said the shake-up was required because the fun had been ‘sucked out’ of the junior game.

“What the brain responds to at that age is having fun and learning from doing,” he said. “When you see the junior formats done – and done well – you’ll see the kids let loose in an environment that encourages them to laugh and interact with each other.

“The great thing about that is that’s what kids do when they’re having fun.”

Chappell enjoyed support from other greats, including Glenn McGrath, who conceded the shift was necessary at a time when computer games and extreme sports, including BMX and skateboarding, presented cricket with stiff competition.

McGrath, who captured 563 Test wickets, applauded the changes, but said one in particular resonated with him.

As a junior cricketer who was kept away from the action because his captain thought a ‘fishing rod’ had more talent than him, McGrath welcomed one aim of junior formats was to ensure every child received a fair go.

“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?”

While junior formats achieved its aims, it has also shown officials that cricket is a robust enough sport to undergo generational change should that need arise in the future.