Cricket Debate: This Week On Twitter – Getting Children Interested in Cricket, and Rotation Policies

I have enjoyed myself on Twitter this week, or more accurately I have enjoyed being on Twitter this week which is not something I have said (or felt) for a long time as Brexit and then COVID-19 seemed to bring out the worst and then the very worst of Twitterers! Or is it Tweeters, or maybe Tweetarses?

Now don’t get me wrong in my fourteen (14) years on Twitter – I was actually part of the original Beta – it has always been that responses on line have often been aggressive, rude, biased and downright nasty, and that has not changed at all other than to get worse in reality. As an aside my approach is never to tweet anything that I would not be prepared to say to the person face to face, an approach I doubt many have adopted.

But back to this week and the two cricket subjects debated the most (by me at least) evolved around the joy of seeing Test Cricket back on Free to Air TV thanks to Channel 4 (yep, I called it regards it going with two pundits by the way) and the role FTA/TV has on getting children involved with cricket, followed by the merits (or not) of the rotation policy: specifically Bess v Ali.

On the first subject I 100% agree that the more children watch cricket on TV the more engaged they are likely to become: simple maths will prove that. My view was (is) that just putting the cricket on TV is not enough, something has to happen to make then children want to watch it in the first place: the horse before the cart so to speak. Who is responsible for this? Common views was the schools, but I disagree. Not that I don’t think school, like TV, have a huge part to play but they can (and will) only ever react to demand. Not enough of them are offering cricket on the syllabus because not enough children, and more importantly parents, are demanding it.

And there is my point: the responsibility for getting children involved with cricket lies with the parents. Once the seed is planted, the interest is awoken, then the schools and TV come into play, but before that the parents have to get the balls being bowled, the bats being swung. They need to play with the children, join local clubs, lobby the schools, take them to the games, and yes, watch the TV with them.

I am sorry but I feel that it today’s society we are too quick to place the responsibility for our children’s development on “others” when it has always and should always start with the parents. The Hundred isn’t the answer, other than it may be so heavily discounted to make it work, that financially it is an attractive option for the parents, but it would cost less to subsidise the Vitality Blast, let the children play on the pitch again at intervals, engage the players even more …..

Regards rotation my main views were that a) rotation does not mean game by game, it can mean series by series, two game on, three games off and b) Ali should play instead of Bess.

This second point got the most ‘flack’ primarily based on form (to which I could have no recourse as Ali has not played and Bess has) and it being unfair on Bess, which would be valid if he was being dropped, but rotation is not being dropped.

I stayed away from the merits or benefits (or not) of rotation but I will return one day as for all the pros and cons one thing it has taken away is the ability to name the team that won: Clough’s Forest being a classic example, but same can be sad for the Liverpool and Leeds teams of the 70’s, the United team of the late 90’s and early 00’s.

My reasons for picking Ali were many:

  • from a mental health perspective you can’t send Bairstow and Buttler home to have a Bubble Break, but effectively take Ali on a 6 match tour and not play him.
  • Leach has not bowled for nearly a year and has a history of illness so is a higher than normal chance he will not be able to play 4 back to back tests in India.
  • Bess has good figures, but they include more than a fair share of bad balls, and like Leach he is struggling for consistency.

All of which means is highly probably we will ‘need’ Ali at some stage this tour so playing him now a) ensures he has some form and match time “if” needed and b) his playing increases the probability of the other two being available for more tests.

Right or wrong team selection is no longer as simple as putting your best eleven on the pitch every week.

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