In 2018, Colin Graves, head of the ECB, claimed young generations in both countries were not attracted to cricket. To some, the news was just not true as junior cricket clubs and some schools were said to be turning kids away due to a lack of cricket team space. The two contradicting views of cricket’s future in England and Wales has raised plenty of debate. Fans watching the Cricket World Cup are debating which team will win the tournament. Cricket fans can use the Betfred promotional offer to wager on the team they believe will win the trophy.
Hosting of the Cricket World Cup this summer and with excitement around the tournament, the common thought would be more kids will discover the sport. But will that happen and are young players really turning their backs on the United Kingdom’s summer sport?
Retaining young cricket players
By all accounts, cricket clubs are losing teenage cricket players. The loss of players between the ages of 15 and 17 are making it difficult to develop players for the future. While players may take part in the sport between the ages of 5 and 10, there is an issue with those teenage cricketers continuing on. Clubs nor the England and Wales Cricket Board have found a way to retain those players.
A number of reasons have been given for teenagers leaving the game. Short attention spans, money, and a lack of time have all been used to explain just why kids are not playing the sport.
Some cricket coaches and pundits believe youngsters exposed to Twenty20 Cricket cannot stand the long, repetitive nature of the overs game. Others have identified the game’s slow play in which kids spend long portions of the game sitting or standing around as the chief issue.
Dropping numbers all around
Cricket is just one of the many sports in the UK that is seeing its numbers drop. Sport England found squash participation has been decreasing for the last few years. According to Statista, in 2015-16, 53.6% of 11 to 15-years old in England played football. In 2017-18, that figure had dropped to 44.7%
All sports are losing teenage players due to more reasons than the games themselves. Yes, it is easy to dissect the sport of cricket to determine reasons for falling numbers. However, it may be more than the sport itself.
Teenagers now have far more entertainment options that weren’t available to previous generations. There have also been technology advancements and teenagers may be influenced to spend time indoors than outside wielding a cricket bat. In addition, the UK is flush with more sports, including esports, than it was 30 years ago. American football, basketball, taekwondo, and even ice hockey are options today.
The pressures of teenage life are also a reason kids give up on sports as they get older. The ages of 15 to 18 are important years in which many teenagers are figuring out their futures. Cricket and other sports can become a casualty as kids plan for their college, university, or professional lives. Cricket will always have its place in British society and sport. It will also ebb and flow with participation numbers. Facing the facts that teenagers leaving the sport is more complex may be a way to bring them back into the game.