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Is cricket not an inclusive sport?

Starfighter

International Coach
Now there was the thread recently with this title http://www.cricketweb.net/forum/threads/is-cricket-an-inclusive-sport.83770/ which was about perceived racial discrimination. Now needless to say, this is about less touchy a subject, one that I immediately thought of when reading the thread title and before I clicked on it.

After playing for ten years, hitting a few guys in the nuts, bowling lots of wides, taking the occasional wicket, playing a few fetching cover drives, making lots of blocks, getting away the odd late cut, taking a catch or two, and dropping as many I've observed that cricket is perhaps not a very inclusive sport.

Now I played football (or soccer as I still prefer to call it) for quite a while. While you can be vastly variable in your ability in any sport, I feel like it's quite hard to hide away on a football field. Sooner or later the ball will go near you, and there's plenty of opportunities to place yourself near it. Outside of politics over actually being selected in the team, or of being permanently on substitute (not an option if you only get the bare XI, which was usually the case), it's quite easy to get involved and make a proper contribution, even if you aren't overly besotted with your teammates.

In comparison in cricket it's possible to end up doing extremely little if you're not in the team's clique. I didn't bowl for the first half of my first club season (nor batted above eight, and usually eleven, if at all), and it wasn't due to a surfeit of quality players. There ended up being quite a nasty breakdown but thankfully the captain and the more odious of his mates disappeared. But I still only got a bowl through taking up some truly horrible leg spin, as that could be added to the variety grab-bag. There was no shortage of fielding at square or fine leg, though, that's usually where the unwanted players are left.

Junior cricket was just as bad, since the teams tended to a) revolve around the coach's son and b) I tended to be in a team with everyone else a year below me, which already created a divide before you even considered the usual cliques. So while there might, for example, have been a begrudging acceptance of me as one of the less bad bowlers, it still meant not getting as many overs and only getting the ball after the shine was off it, but not getting to bowl at the tail while runs were racked up against filth bowled by said coach's son. Also best mates would be placed in slips, and not even see (let alone catch) any edges offered.

And that's if you're not terrible relative to your team members, aren't completely disliked, or aren't in a team where there is a clique of 'do everything' players. I was usually in a team with a high turnover and fairly young players. In comparison I've played many a team where there were groups who had played together for years who assigned themselves everything - even if they weren't good at it - and the other players were simply there to make up the numbers. And if you've got someone who's bad (we had a player like this last year) they end up bowling two overs, or none at all, and you bat them as high as you dare, but not very high. It's easy to end up with specialist fielders.

Overall I feel like it's quite hard to place yourself in the action in cricket, and wonder if it perhaps is worse at creating team and play dynamics where members who aren't in the clique are left with very little to do other than field in a crappy position. Fielding aside it is perhaps more reliant on individual performances than, say, football, and so perhaps isn't as inclusive.
 
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Shri

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
cricket does let you give a lot of chances to blame everyone else but yourself, sure
 

weeman27bob

International Debutant
This reminds me of one season which I think must have been under-13s cricket where my dad was the coach for the team. There were about 6 or 7 county age group players in the team, another handful of good players and then me who was keen but clearly not up to the same standard as everyone else.

We played in a 20 over competition where you had to retire if you scored 30 (but had the opportunity to come back if everyone else was out) and I'm assuming bowlers were limited to four overs each.

Given there were already 10 other people competing to for spots in the batting order and wanting to bowl, my role in the team was essentially specialist fielder. I don't remember if it was exclusively fine-leg/third-man, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. I rarely if ever bowled and batted number 11 where the best service I could to for the team was to get out quickly so the better batsmen could come back in.

We were far too good for our local league and smashed everyone, getting through to some kind of national level competition. At which point I was promptly dropped (by my dad) for a younger player in the age group below who was much better than me. :laugh:
 

stephen

Hall of Fame Member
Spinners and wicket keepers have the hardest jobs. It can be really hard to break into a side as a wicket keeper if there's already someone who wants the job.

Often in grade and club cricket the pitches are greentops which means spinners just don't get a bowl at all. When they do it's usually begrudgingly after every medium paced trundler in the side has had a bowl and the batsmen have their eye in. Or it's a 40 degree day.

I've heard many stories about spinners floundering in lower grades but they change clubs or move up a grade or two and are under a different captain and they start flourishing. It happens all the time and it's part and parcel of a sport that includes 22 players but only 3 of those are doing anything at a time.

The captain makes a huge difference. Moreso than in any other sport.
 

Line and Length

International Debutant
I didn't take up serious cricket until I was in my early twenties. My best friend and I fronted training at a club - nobody welcomed us and introduced us and, other than to direct us to a fielding drill, spoke to us. We did fielding drills until it was too dark and then everyone (there would have been 50 + at training) left.
My friend, who worked in a post office, related our experience to a customer who just happened to be a cricketer and Club secretary with another club. He invited us to train with his club and we never looked back. Both of us became Life Members and I was named in the "Team of 50 Years".
Admittedly the first club mentioned was a Pennant side while the Club we joined played in the next competition down but the first team could have had lost some genuine talent by ignoring newcomers such us us.
 

sarahk99

Cricket Spectator
I didn't take up serious cricket until I was in my early twenties. My best friend and I fronted training at a club - nobody welcomed us and introduced us and, other than to direct us to a fielding drill, spoke to us. We did fielding drills until it was too dark and then everyone (there would have been 50 + at training) left.
My friend, who worked in a post office, related our experience to a customer who just happened to be a cricketer and Club secretary with another club. He invited us to train with his club and we never looked back. Both of us became Life Members and I was named in the "Team of 50 Years".
Admittedly the first club mentioned was a Pennant side while the Club we joined played in the next competition down but the first team could have had lost some genuine talent by ignoring newcomers such us us.
somehow that sounds really sad
I'm sorry that you've had a bad experience
 

the big bambino

International Captain
A mate and I played with the school's old boy's team for a while many years ago. We were just out of school and the youngest players. Captain was a snob by the name of Lush. Probably 20 years older than us, as were most of the players. In the field we took turns at fine leg or long on. Didn't get to bowl. Ever. Guess where we batted? 10 and 11. All the time. The batting side had to supply the umps and that's how we spent our day waiting for our turn to bat. The only joy i got was making it a goal to give our captain out lbw. Which I did whenever a ball found its way onto his pads. memories ...
 

Dan

Global Moderator
I think this is mostly a problem where there's a really wide stratification of talent (either real or perceived) within a team, and is exacerbated further when there's a big step between levels meaning everyone at the top of the talent tree is effectively an all-rounder by virtue of their exposure to the level above. If your top five batsmen are also your top five bowlers, there's not much need for 8-11 to do anything other than field.

Like, the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL are such a classic case in point. In Healy, Perry, Gardner, Burns, Kapp and van Niekerk, they have probably 15 overs per game and the wicketkeeper in the top six of their batting line-up. That means that Jodie Hicks draws the short straw of batting 9 and not bowling (she's played 22 WBBL games for three innings and has never bowled), and the specialist bowlers at 10 and 11 are effectively playing as part-timers.

Don't get me wrong, it's outstanding when Donald Tiripano goes back to Zimbabwean domestix during a crisis and tons up from number five most games, but it kinda sucks for the people effectively being picked as specialist fielders as a result.
 

Kirkut

International Debutant
Football was considered a working class sport while cricket a game for the elites in the past. Cricket was not a people's game when it came to the subcontinent for the first time, it was only played between the kings of Princely States and high ranking officers of British Empire. Playing cricket in 1930s subcontinent indirectly meant that you were super rich.

I've read a bit about history of how cricket came to the Caribbean and there C.L.R. James sort of describes how cricket indirectly displayed the class system in UK at that time. Of course there isn't any class system in cricket today, but the game by design is exclusive because it was a product of values followed in the 1800s.
 

Daemon

Request Your Custom Title Now!
Barriers to entry (both technically and in terms of equipment) are fairly high unless there’s a culture of casual backyard/tennis ball cricket to at least learn how to roll your arm over.

Nobody wants to play with a total noob, and it does take a while to ‘earn the right’ to play proper cricket.
 

Red

The artist formerly known as Monk
I didn't take up serious cricket until I was in my early twenties. My best friend and I fronted training at a club - nobody welcomed us and introduced us and, other than to direct us to a fielding drill, spoke to us. We did fielding drills until it was too dark and then everyone (there would have been 50 + at training) left.
Not an ideal experience but it happens. Sometimes if there's no one with a bit of foresight at training at that time you get this scenario, especially if you rock up not knowing anyone at the club.

Our club president is usually around keeping an eye out for this sort of thing, but if he's not there it'd be easy for newbies to feel this way if everyone else is focussed on training.
 

Line and Length

International Debutant
The class system of UK cricket was diminished considerably with the end of the Gentlemen vs Players matches in 1962. The first game was played in 1806 becoming an annual FC fixture in 1819. Two and sometimes 3 of these fixtures were played each year. The Gentlemen were (usually wealthy) amateurs while the Players were professionals. Towards the later history of these fixtures, the Players dominated the results.
 

TheJediBrah

Hall of Fame Member
Definitely an issue at lower grades of cricket. Which personally I agree shouldn't happen. If you're playing a grade where you have players batting 8-11 who aren't front-line bowlers or a keeper then you shouldn't be taking it so seriously that you don't give everyone a go. People suck sometimes
 

Line and Length

International Debutant
Definitely an issue at lower grades of cricket. Which personally I agree shouldn't happen. If you're playing a grade where you have players batting 8-11 who aren't front-line bowlers or a keeper then you shouldn't be taking it so seriously that you don't give everyone a go. People suck sometimes
Good point TJB. After I retired from playing I would occasionally fill-in when the Club's numbers were down. The Club had 3 grades and the captain of the lowest side wanted me to open both the batting and the bowling. I didn't feel comfortable so the next time I filled in I did so in the second side where I batted at 11 and didn't bowl until 5 regulars had had a spell. I enjoyed that as I still felt I was contributing without denying regulars their rightful opportunities.
 

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