Musings From The Padded Cell

The Lost Spirit Of Cricket

“A cricket ground is a flat piece of earth with some buildings around it.”
Richie Benaud

Almost at the end of an eight week stint at several local primary schools promoting a game with all the mass appeal of anthrax these days, I sat to await another thirty kids high on custard.

Let loose by their teacher for forty minutes – at best – I wondered whether the suits in charge of the game really had a clue what was going on down in the basement.

As the Sky money tree shakes like a drug crazed belly dancer at the highest levels and debt laden counties are given a financial lifeline from disaster few could have imagined, what for those trying to keep the game alive for ordinary kids?

A bag with more holes than a teabag; mouldy tennis balls and some whizzy IT based coaching drills absolutely spot-on for groups of…six!

As if to add weight to my conviction that cricket’s governing bodies are in La La Land here are two quotes taken from a BBC website piece this week concerning the game changing 100 ball format to be introduced in 2020.

For the uninitiated this is the backbone of a new £1bn five-year Sky TV deal which also brings cricket back – in a limited manner – to terrestrial television for the first time since 2005.

…England Test players like captain Joe Root and Ben Stokes will be on international duty during the competition. They’ll be allocated to a team for marketing purposes only!

However…the ECB made the point that “this new audience won’t necessarily know who Stokes and Root are anyway”.

England director of cricket Andrew Strauss has said the 100-ball proposal…is aimed at “mums and kids in the summer holidays”.

Can you imagine a World Cup without Messi; I shook my head in disbelief.

And then I came across yet another ECB “initiative” to keep the politically correct mob salivating. You may remember my recent piece on how the ECB can blow heaps of money in the interests of ticking a few boxes.

In The PC Money Tree I illustrated the idiocy of a failed policy designed to get the quaintly named South Asian population playing cricket in their thousands.

The policy is based on a notion that this section of the population seem to love cricket more than most. Well I love fish and chips but nobody offers me millions to go enjoy them.

So now we have another grand plan after numerous expensive failures in Bradford alone to patronise the Asian population, foisted on them by people who have not got a clue what it takes to run a grassroots cricket club.

Cue an open letter to Lord Patel of Bradford.

Lord Patel

Dear Lord Patel

As I enter the last week or so of an eight week programme “coaching” cricket in four local primary schools in Bradford, I find myself feeling somewhat detached from your vision as publicised today. This from someone who has dedicated his life to the game.

Once again the ECB finds comfort in yet another survey whilst most of us at the grassroots are fixed of the belief that the governing body is clueless as to the real state of club cricket.

I do hope that once the money starts to rain down from Mr Murdoch you ensure it is better spent than recent evidence in Bradford suggests. Although I suspect my blog is not on the ECB reading list you might wish to view here –

Let me take issue with several points in the BBC article:
The study…revealed that South Asian participation makes up 30% of the recreational game in the UK and 18% of the cricketing economy is contributed by fans of South Asian origin. How can this be any more than guesswork? As a Club Treasurer I would contend this is nonsense.
It also found that the biggest barrier to South Asian participation was access to facilities in urban areas. Rubbish…cricket clubs are crying out for players and integration means joining in not creating stand-alone facilities.
ECB is looking to create more than 20 new Urban Cricket Centres and develop 1,000 non-turf and 100 turf pitches by 2024. Who will manage, run, maintain and ultimately renew these. I’ve just been to B&Q and spent £24 on weed killer for our artificial lanes. My treat Sunday morning is to power wash them. Where will you get your army of volunteers after spoon-feeding communities with these shiny facilities?
“Cricket is a force for good in society and our job is to ensure that it makes a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible,” said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison. So how about speaking to people who know what’s really going on?
“While we’ve long acknowledged the passion for the game in South Asian communities in the UK and had the best intentions, we have never fully understood how to engage with South Asian communities. This report gives us a road map to change that.” Pure CEO Waffle.

I am dismayed to keep reading such twaddle in the knowledge that millions will be poured away to little effect whilst cricket remains largely invisible to most kids.

It clearly suits certain agendas but, as a route back to establishing cricket as a mass participation sport, this “plan” is hopeless.

As ever you remain welcome to come to a junior game at BVCC and share a cup of tea.

Steve Wilson
Trustee, Treasurer & Junior Coach

The game will survive in the private schools and the more affluent areas but, as a mass participation sport, the writing has been on the wall for years.

You cannot escape the feeling that those on high know this and are simply filling their boots, using any method they can to their eternal shame.

The PC mob simply remain deluded and clueless.

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  1. John Armstrong says:

    Hi Steve,
    Having looked on with incredulity as the news about the “new” ECB initiative unfurled I thought to myself, how long before Steve posts a blog.
    Mate you did not let me down and as usual you are spot on the money, its the volunteers that are required not 24 urban spaces!!
    Perhaps a route forward would be to spend Murdochs millions on subsidising volunteers in some form as there are not enough people like you doing all that you do for love of the game.

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