Development squads in League cricket – postscript

We fielded a slightly changed squad on Saturday, adding an additional player in the 50+ category. But the theme of “youth & experience” still held

Given our League position going into the game, and the need to set an example for the younger players, we set out to play “good cricket” (which I have defined previously as scoring runs quickly and bowling the other side out), but were frustrated by our opponents. Early successes with the ball put them firmly on the back foot, and the game meandered to a bore draw.

Is this the type of cricket that will enthuse a young player, and make him want to play again next week, and next season? Or anyone else, for that matter?

Maybe an argument against fielding development squads in League cricket!

We won the toss and batted. Normally a statement of intent – bowling a team out in the second innings, to win the game, is generally considered to be the more difficult option (and is recognised as such in our local League match regulations – a win-batting-first scores 25 points, compared with just 20 points for successfully chasing down a score batting second).

105 for 5 at the halfway point, and 111 for 6, became 218 for 9 by the end of the innings. One fifty (a maiden half century from one of the younger players) from the top half of the order, and solid contributions from the lower order. A good batting performance, with everyone getting a chance to bat.

Good, so far, both in terms of the progression of the match and of the ideals of the Development Squad.

The first ball of the second innings kept a little low, and knocked back the off-stump of the opposition’s opening bat. A couple of overs later, their young number 3 was also bowled. With which, the shutters went up, and the batting side proceeded to block out for the draw, with more than two hours and 8 wickets in hand. They closed on 75 for 5, from 50 overs. Subtracting the 21 extras, only 54 runs were scored off the bat from more than 300 deliveries…

We rotated our bowlers, bowled the obligatory slow lobs, kept the field in close to allow scope for aerial shots, and generally did what we could to inject some life into the game. But our opponents’ only ambition was survival, and we lacked the ability or cunning to dislodge them.

By the rules of the competition, there was logic in the go-slow – by denying us the 25 points for a win, our opposition retained their own (mathematical) chance of a promotion slot.

But at what cost to the game, and the engagement of the younger players, ours and their own?

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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  1. Its a difficult balance to get right – giving the younger players enough cricket to a) encourage their development and b) stop them feeling ‘used’ against ensuring the more experienced players don’t feel threatened or short changed. Personally I enjoy the additional challenges captaining this type of side presents (bowling regs are there for a reason not just to make a captain’s life even more difficult) but I think it has to be done as a stated aim for the side so that everyone is aware what they are getting into and you get as much buy in as possible.

    This time of year with call offs for holidays, football etc can be a good opportunity to start the ball rolling – I played in a side at the weekend that was not dissimilar in make up to yours, promotion has long since gone as a target due to league restructuring next year so for me this provided a great chance to use the game as a development opportunity. Did it work? Well two quicks got their full allocation for the first time this year producing good second spells, batting was less of a success with the opposition leaving their opener on as he tried to get a 5er, but it did show the lads what they might come up against and where they need to be to force their way into the team proper next season. Will we do it next week? Not sure as the normal captain is back so I think we might revert to old habits for the final game of the year, shame as it will be an opportunity lost in my opinion

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