Delivering face-to-face training for All Stars & Dynamos Activators, yesterday, and came across my least favourite All Stars activity — diamond cricket.
IMO There really is so much to dislike about this game, and little to recommend it.
National Programmes Activator training
Trainee Activators are asked to present an activity, and we then analyse the activity using the STEP and PEAS models.
On the night, we did not have enough participants to make a game of diamond cricket viable, or they might have had to listen to me talking (probably at length) about how to modify activities to make them more engaging and safer. Or, indeed, explaining why I was suggesting alternatives to diamond cricket.
And we only had two hours…
What’s wrong with diamond cricket? Applying the PEAS filter.
It is a bat & ball game, like cricket, but there are much better alternatives (see below).
Batters run around bases (like rounders), not from one end of the pitch to the other (like cricket).
It’s hit-and-run, with no decision making as to whether a run is safe or not.
To be fair, most variants of Pavilion or relay cricket are also hit-and-run, but this is not set in stone. We sometimes play “you can block, miss or leave the first two deliveries, but you must run on the third ball”. This doesn’t work in diamond, when you have three base runners (and all those fielders) stood around waiting for the ball to go live.
Enjoyable (or Engaging)?
Any bat & ball game can be fun, but too many “participants” in diamond cricket will be passive — “base runners” if the batter doesn’t get an immediate hit, at least 75% of the fielders (unless you allow them to run across the diamond to chase the ball, and you wouldn’t allow that, would you?).
Set-up is complicated — four stations, four fielding squads (four designated “keepers”, at least, one for each station), four batters.
And there is a lot to explain — who bats, what constitutes a fair hit, where they run to (and in which direction), how batters are dismissed, where the fielders stand (and where they can’t go — no leaving their “zone”, no crossing the running lanes?), where they throw the ball…
In my book, any game that can’t be started within 2 minutes is too complicated! You have just 60 minutes for an All Stars or Dynamos session, and multiple activities to fit in. The less time spent explaining, the more time playing!
You have too many participants doing different things, most of them behind the Activators back, including four children running around with bats where fielders are trying to pick up the ball…
Risk of collisions at bases.
Fielders have multiple targets to throw to, some of which will entail throwing across the running lanes.
Anything in favour?
I do struggle with this, especially when there are more cricket-like games that offer most of the same benefits, and more.
- Lots of action — hit-and-run (lots of “run” if you get any hits), hence lots of fielding opportunities.
- Easy (easier) to understand if children have played rounders at school (is rounders still played at school?).
Any of the “pavilion”/”relay” cricket games.
Batters in line, first batter on strike, hit-and-run (or dismissed) then return to the end of the line (“back in the pavilion”) to be replaced by the next in line. And repeat.
Last night, we played a round of “three bats” (Countdown Bats in Dynamos) with the Activators — lose a wicket and you lose a bat, teams change when all the bats are lost.
Much closer to cricket — one batter on strike vs. bowler & fielders.
To get even closer, you could have the batter run to the bowler’s end, and have a “non-striker” running back (so run out chances at both ends) before re-joining the queue — the race then is for the non-striker to get their bat back in time.
Too many players (waiting in line to bat for too long)? Have three teams instead of two — one team batting, one fielding on the off-side and one on the leg (or one close and one “in the deep”, if your batters can hit long).
If your Dynamos can bowl, let them — maybe one or two balls each, then rotate around the field. Avoid the “coconut shy” of “bowling” in diamond cricket by letting them play cricket.
I am a big fan of games and games-based learning. But those games need to be a lot closer to the game we are trying to promote than diamond cricket.
Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend. Not mine!