Junior players in the Seymour District Cricket Association should feel more comfortable bowling — and hitting sixes — this summer, thanks to some significant changes to the game that cater for the physical capabilities of children.
After last summer’s nation-wide pilot, the junior format for the local competition has been tailored for children aged 10 years to 13 years. Changes include shortening the length of the pitch and the boundaries, and reducing the number of fielders.
The changes were introduced to address the unrealistic expectations that were placed on children to play under adult regulations — including bowling on full-sized pitches and trying to hit fours or sixes past massive boundaries.
Analysts who studied the results during the 2016-17 pilot noted vast improvements due to the changes. They observed there were less no-balls and wides bowled; more wickets; more fours and sixes and a huge improvement in shot placement.
Junior cricket associations around the country have agreed to roll out the new formats over the next three years, with the SDCA set to adopt the new rules this summer.
The roll-out of the new junior format will ensure every child has a bat and a bowl, and will allow players the opportunity to develop a greater skill set.
‘‘Wides are no longer the top-scorer in junior cricket and there is more action, more runs, more wickets and a lot more fun,’’ Cricket ACT’s chief executive Cameron French said.
‘‘Another advantage is the formats have significantly reduced a game to two to three hours which makes the sport even more appealing for families in a time-poor society.’’
One of the first changes is the name for the age groups: under-11s are now known as Stage 1 and under-13s are Stage 2.
Stage 1 teams field seven players, play on a 16m pitch to cut down on wides and no-balls, defend a shorter 40m boundary and each player is given a chance to bat and bowl.
Those in Stage 2 will play in teams of nine, use an 18m pitch and defend a 45m boundary. Each player is guaranteed a chance to bat and bowl.