Recreational and grassroots cricket faces a set of challenges unique in amateur sport. A combination of factors has resulted in fewer completed fixtures and falling participation numbers, but an ECB initiative called Get The Game On is tackling these challenges head on.
Cricket needs to adapt as society changes
Society is changing. Spare time is increasingly precious as our work and family commitments intensify and the world simultaneously shrinks and speeds up. Cricket is a notoriously time-consuming pursuit and it needs to adapt to stay functional and relevant as society changes.
A 2014 ECB survey revealed 908,000 registered UK cricketers in 2013 had fallen to 844,000 just a year later – a drop of 64,000. Fewer than a third of those 844,000 participants see themselves as core players – defined as players able to commit to at least 12 matches a season – with the majority of the remaining 600,000 deemed ‘occasional’ or ‘cameo’ players. Conceded fixtures grew by 63% over four years, due mostly to at least one of the teams being unable to field 11 players.
These cancellations breed disillusionment, and here begins a domino effect that is difficult to stop.
How can Get The Game On make a difference?
So what on earth can initiatives like Get The Game On (GTGO) do to help grassroots cricket function better? Get The Game On’s task is enormous, but its philosophy is relatively simple – together we are stronger, and if everyone does their bit on game day to ensure a game goes ahead, the more cricket we’ll play and the healthier the game will be. By making everybody’s job that bit easier, all the links in the chain are likely to work. It is about improving communication, flexibility and incentivising the people involved.
GTGO strives to make the cricket community more joined up, more cohesive, and engages leagues all over the country with simple and effective messages. Basic alterations like limiting travel times to games and adopting earlier start times are encouraged, as is offering incentives to umpires and scorers – for example, in the Bristol and District Cricket League teams receive two extra bonus points per game if they provide an umpire who has attended a three hour pre-season course run and funded by the league.
Social media activity can seriously enhance communication and promotion
GTGO also found that social media wasn’t, and in some case still isn’t being utilised properly to enhance communication and promotion. Social media’s live and real-time feeds can help prevent games being called off too early. If you’re trying to make up the numbers, it is far easier to contact en-masse than having to make phone call after phone call. And last but not least, it is easier to keep the players engaged and involved, by way of producing and sharing stats, scorecards and the like much more quickly and efficiently. And we all know how much cricketers love stats.
Organisations such as the Northern Premier League, in Lancashire and Cumbria, has embraced the use of social media and it has already proved very successful in reducing the number of cancelled fixtures, halving the amount in the first season.
Join the campaign
Getting the game on is arguably the most fundamental task in grassroots cricket. After all, what is left if there is no game?
Visit the Get The Game On website for a selection of tips and useful tools that will help your club get the game on.