As the world moves forward at break-neck speed, the risk of children dropping out of or never finding sport increases. Fortnite, FIFA and Virtual Reality are all compelling reasons to never leave the house again no matter what your age. But we truly believe that cricket is the perfect antidote to those activities - a pastime or hobby that when played with the right people can become a lifetime’s obsession.
So why should your child play cricket instead of their PlayStation 4? There are so many reasons.
Firstly, it’s just great to get outside and play in the fresh air. We are guilty of being cooped up, stuck behind a screen for hours at a time, whether that’s a console, work PC or phone. There is barely a better feeling in the world than when Saturday comes and it’s cricket day.
Getting up and out leads to getting active, which in turn leads to better overall fitness. Of course cricket isn’t the dynamic 90 minutes of physical exertion that football can offer, but it requires different type of fitness and stamina for the players to perform at their best. Can a bowler continue to generate good levels of pace deep into their spell? Can a batsman keep the scoreboard moving as they tire? Is a fielder able to keep sprinting around the boundary to prevent crucial runs?
It’s during the long days of cricket that another crucial skill is developed – concentration. Let’s face it, you can go for a long time in a game not touching the ball. If you are at first slip, the chances are a catch might not come your way for hours at a time. However, when the golden moment comes, you have to be switched on and ready to take your chance. Too often a catch is missed, and you are left thinking “what happened there?!”
The other fantastic physical skill that cricket teaches youngsters is that of hand-eye coordination. From facing the fastest bowling, to taking sharp catches in the slip cordon, cricketers stand out from the crowd when it comes to their hand-eye development. How can you identify a true cricketer in a local park on a Sunday morning? Watch their catching technique and how easy they make it look.
The great paradox of cricket is that it ostensibly a team sport, but one played by individuals. Although there are 11 players out on the field for a team, only one person can bowl, and one batsman can face the ball at any one time. In that moment, the individual must take responsibility for their own performance. There is no hiding behind a teammate – you are exposed. This a harsh but incredibly powerful learning experience for a child, a lesson in having confidence in their own ability to perform when the pressure is on.
This should not detract from the incredible feeling being part of a team gives a child and adult alike. In fact, it is fair to say that there aren’t many better experiences than winning cricket matches, whether you have performed well or not. In fact, think back to your best score or bowling figures, and it’s likely that unless your team came out on the right end of the result that the feeling of the individual achievement would have been somewhat soured.
One other amazing bits of life experience cricket offers to a junior is the ability to play safely with players much older than them. Think about a local fourth team match which could very well include a 12-year-old making their adult debut, a few 20-year olds, 30-year-old working professionals, the 12-year old’s Dad and maybe even Grandad. That’s a real menagerie of people, an eclectic mix of individuals, stories and experiences that can only fulfil and enrich the life of a young cricketer making their way in the game and in life.
For all the reasons there are not to start playing cricket, there are many more to go out there and get involved. It’s a sport that offers so many benefits, from fitness to life experience and all the technical skills in between. The sport remains a passion for millions all over the world – there’s a reason people keep coming back week and week. We love it, and we hope on the back of England winning Cricket World Cup 2019, we hope your child will too.