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Cricket’s lost generation

Created on 15/09/2010 @ 12:44
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Local cricket faces some soul searching after mywelshpool can reveal that more players aged over 45 were active this summer than the golden sporting age of 25-35.
Welshpool, Montgomery and Guilsfield Cricket Clubs have become mainstays of the Border Leagues for decades, but a baffling black hole has developed in the ages of those donning the whites.
On one particular Saturday this summer, Welshpool 1sts fielded four players aged 45 or over, Guilsfield fielded three, and Montgomery two compared to just seven players in total for the age bracket considered prime for sportsmen and women.
“It’s a shocking statistic but doesn’t really surprise me,” said Welshpool skipper Dale Evans, who, despite being 45, is only the fourth oldest player in his side. “There’s a number of factors to look at and not just one particular problem. From the sporting side, not enough is done for the players once they turn 17 or 18. Younger than that and they have to travel all the way to Llandrindod Wells for proper coaching which is too far. A lot simply lose interest.
“Socially, lads in their 20’s want to go out on a Saturday night. With the chance for losing draws, some clubs just bat out the overs with no intention of winning which can mean travelling back from Shropshire at 9pm. Perhaps, if there were earlier starts that might help?”
Montgomery secretary David Thomas agreed that there was a black hole but stressed it wasn’t exclusive to Montgomeryshire.
“It is a trend throughout the UK,” he said. “In Montgomery’s case there are a number of factors. We did not start a youth policy until 2002 and we are only just starting to feel the benefits and with no secondary school in the town we don’t have a natural feed from school to club.
“I also feel that league cricket is very competitive and has removed some of the ‘fun’ factor so it has been difficult to bring on young players in the senior teams because of the emphasis on league position.”
Guilsfield skipper Sam Griffiths is yet to reach the ‘golden age’ and at 22 is one of the county’s top emerging talents. But he captains a side that blends up-and-coming teenagers with golden oldies.
“There just isn’t the interest to play from that age group,” he said. “Perhaps it’s because a lot of them play football as well and like to take the summer off? You have to take into consideration too that a lot of lads get married at that age and start families so the priorities can change with cricket taking up a whole day of the weekend.”
And as the football season continues to encroach on the cricket ‘summer’ it is unlikely that the black hole will be filled any time soon.
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