The Elephant In The Room Is Drunk

I have been working with a number of clubs recently with my No Boundaries Cricket Club cap on looking at ways to not only embrace but to deliver inclusivity and diversity. It is telling how few questions are being asked.

I have spoken with a lot of people not involved with either their local Cricket Club, or Cricket at all, and a glaring fact is that they are not being asked why.

I think it is also fair to say, that with some notable exceptions, Cricket Clubs are still run very much top down by the Committee, although “they” have a very strong argument that far too often playing members show little interest in getting involved in any aspect other than playing … when they want to.

These are observations. There are good (historical and current) reasons for them, but the first question I tend to ask is “Will the Club survive is you maintain the status quo?”

I should say at this point that like many I enjoy a drink, occasionally more than I should, and as I have got older far less than I used to, and far too often the alcohol has been the “winner”. I am not a habitual drinker these days. I maybe have a whisky one or two evenings a week in the winter, a glass of wine with Sunday lunch with my parents during the winter, and a bottle of wine at times with Sands. From time to time I will have a beer after a match but as am driving it is more often than not a soft drink.

I do like a “good drink” at the Tests and Finals Day with mates, but then again “that’s Cricket” and the end of a very long introduction to the point of this week’s diary.

A question I have been asking recently is how strong do people think cricket (club and professional) would be without alcohol? I am not passing a moral judgement or suggesting banning alcohol but given the dependency many clubs have on bar takings and test cricket has on match day sales it is hard to see how you can grow a product with such strong dependency on third party revenues which the game only facilitates.

I asked one club how much revenue came from their top 10 customers. Then asked them the average age of those customers. Then we discussed (in a somewhat bizarre way to be fair) how long they could expect to receive those revenues. Next we looked at the age and profile of the other members and fair to say it was hard to see how those revenues would be replaced, and more worryingly for them what plans they did (not) have to generate new revenues.

At the other end of the scale a CEO of a County Team went white when I asked what the impact would be on a 2 drinks per person limitation, or indeed if cricket was actually made to monitor and adhere to the Drink Sensibly messages we all see on a day to day basis in and around grounds.

Away from those involved I have shown various people not involved with the game to look at social media accounts of clubs and asked then what messages they picked up. There were a lot of positive comments and many were impressed and surprised but a regular response was along the lines of “but I am not a (big) drinker, I wouldn’t fit in”.

Alcohol has always been a significant contributor to the enjoyment and participation in cricket, and it always should be. The answer is not to ban it, shun it, push it to one side. But maybe looking at the long term issues for cricket and finding ways to dilute it’s hold on cricket would pay dividends. After all if you don’t ask you don’t get so let’s not be afraid to ask the questions.

As far as my Cricket goes this week it has been a good one.

Started on Sunday with my role with the Birmingham Unicorns where I was coaching not playing. Had a good net session with some of the bowlers before the game, where I find facing then is really helpful in terms of seeing what they are doing. The team then out in a good performance against a development team. At drinks it was obvious the direction the game was going so I suggested that after the game they played a T10 to ensure everyone got a full day out and a chance to bat or bowl. This was well received and the T10 was enjoyed by all. I think that for Development Games there is a case for a 35 over game followed by a T10 game and we will be certainly doing this again.

Monday I was back with the Unicorns netting and coaching where I introduced a three group approach with evenly matched batters and bowlers in each group. We had two nets batting and bowling supervised by another Coach who wants to get more coaching experience whilst I did some specific batting drills with batters in a third net. To finish I batted against some bowlers who wanted me to look at their actions whilst the rest did some fielding drills. Worked really well, people had fun, and the feedback was very positive.

Tuesday I played my first second game of the season for the same time as I was selected for Staffordshire Seniors Over 60s Second XI. We won easily with 250+ being about 100+ too many for the opposition, but once again I only batted 7 so had a small cameo at the end which produced 13* from 6 balls. Fielded really well and once again put in a 9 over shift resulting in 3 wickets, 3 maidens and 23 runs. Very happy with that!

Thursday I netted and trained with my training buddy, Bob where we had a great couple of hours convincing ourselves we could bat in T10 mode ahead of the tournament on Sunday.

As far as the body is concerned I am really pleased. There are still issues. Some will improve. Some I will have to accommodate. Currently what hurts isn’t having a huge impact on my game. My bowling is good. No issues actually batting and I am now running between the wickets much better. Fielding is like the Swan on the water: it looks easier than it actually is but I am comfortable fielding anywhere on the pitch and the following days are not really an issue at all.

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