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Lack of cricket in schools is hindering development

Cricket starts this weekend with the Belco Cup competition, but forget the Belco Cup, who wins that is irrelevant to the future of Bermuda cricket.

I don’t know if it is me and my passion that is driving me on this, but I won’t stop until people wake up and realise that they can’t just talk the talk, they have to walk the walk.

We all want cricket to move forward and improve, but no-one seems to know the remedy. It’s quite simple, just like anything else in the world, the more you do, it the better you get. So the more children play the better they get, the more adults play the better they get, especially with good coaching.

Why was it that years and years ago, cricket in Bermuda flourished?

In our modern day, there are many examples on social media where kids are playing street cricket all around the world. From a young age they are becoming passionate about it and are finding ways to play it anywhere. That sort of passion is no longer present on our shores.

I remember growing up in St. George’s at around 10-years-old, Dean (Minors) and I would go to the club every day without fail and there would be some big cricket games going on with the neighbourhood kids.

One strip was called the Test wicket. We were so serious about our backyard game that some of the older members even spray painted lines for a crease for us. We had names for everyone, but David (Chick) Adams was named the king of tennis ball cricket, as he was a step above everyone else.

Unfortunately, there seems to be very few of those backyard games going on after school and on hot summer days here in Bermuda. Why is that and how do we instil the interest back in the game?

We seem to be failing to keep up with the rest of the world. We simply have not been doing our homework. Cricket has so many different versions that should be appealing to our youngsters. It is interesting to watch cricket being played indoors in England during the winter. Obviously there are different rules, but once the children understand the rules it requires them to put tactics into their game and learn to use angles with their bat.

Ultimately, it helps develop their overall batting skills and makes the game fun and challenging.

There is another game called Street 20 which is catching on all around the world. Each team has six players. They are allowed 20 balls to get as many runs as they can or until their team is bowled out. These are fun innovative games that can be played at clubs for training or in the schools.

If we are serious about developing our cricket then why are we still adhering to the old way of how we introduced cricket in the schools and the clubs? Kids have so much more that sparks their interest with the cell phone, computers, I-pads, interactive internet games, etc so we must make changes if we are to encourage our children to play sports in general.

Improving cricket in the schools has been a much talked about subject, but what has been done, really? Sending a coach to do a clinic in the schools every once in a while is old school and pointless if the children are not already passionate about cricket.

If we want to go old school then let’s talk about Bob Jones (former national coach).

Bob Jones used to go from school to school coaching week in and week out. If we are serious about improving cricket and moving cricket forward, this is the first step.

We have to garnish interest in the schools from both males and females, and in order to do this we have to make cricket fun and interesting. It is time that those responsible for cricket on our Island broaden their horizons and start thinking outside the box.

The broken record that says: we need more cricket in the schools, we need to get the Board working in the schools on a more consistent basis, we need to improve the knowledge of the gym teachers has to move off of repeat and something actually needs to be done. It is shocking to know that there has been absolutely no cricket played in our local high schools this year. We are failing our children and our national sport by talking the talk, but not walking the walk. We need action! We need a solution!

Bermuda, here is one example that could be the start of a solution. England, the home of cricket is known to put on numerous workshops, which touch on several different aspects of the game. Let’s send someone on a fact-finding mission on ways to improve school cricket, ways to make the game more exciting for children, and ways to attract more children? This has to be done to save our cricket.

The Cricket Board already have a Cricket Academy in place, and certainly this is a positive and is much needed.

They also have continued the programme of sending boys overseas to cricket academies, and their pee wee cricket league is still thriving, so we do have a foundation from where we can build. I am a firm believer that the more cricket you play then you are bound to improve. That’s why we should have the youth leagues playing right through to Cup Match at the very least, rather than finishing at the end of June.

It’s bizarre that the boys and girls are playing during school term, but when school gets out for summer holidays, when they should be playing more, the season has ended.

Hopefully there will be an interesting weekend of cricket with the Belco Cup and it will get the children fired up and eager to play cricket during the summer. Sorry that I have virtually ignored the Belco Cup, but I have this burning desire to see Bermuda cricket improve and we all must not rest on our laurels. We must work hard and be innovative, and let our actions speak louder than our words.

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Published May 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm)

Lack of cricket in schools is hindering development

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