PRESIDENT of the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association, Craig Howsan, admits he is concerned about the state of the cricket in the local region.
He, like many others, know the player numbers are down right across the board.
His views and fears on this subject are honest and from the heart.
“It’s a huge concern that the player numbers are down across the board,” he said.
Even the informal/social twilight cricket numbers are down.
“In days gone, by they [twilight cricke] would have double/triple the numbers they have,” he said.
The overall numbers from last season are down about 25 per cent and once they collate their numbers for the 2018/19 season, Howsan expects the downward trend to continue.
Howsan said senior numbers are down but are being masked by the ‘high number of juniors’ playing in the senior ranks.
“In reality, the numbers are down a lot more because we are down two more first grade teams from last year,” he said
“Things are not looking well for Shoalhaven cricket.”
The association president said the entire Shoalhaven community needed to look at the issue closely.
“We need to develop the game at a grassroots and a senior level,” he said.
The time-strapped association volunteers need more support from anyone willing to help.
He said the player issue has been discussed at both a junior and senior committee level.
Common sense seems to have disappeared - respect seems to have disappearedCraig Howsan
“We are sort of lost as what to do about the situation, as we are all volunteers,” he said.
The attitude of some players could also be a factor in people leaving the sport.
“Common sense seems to have disappeared – respect seems to have disappeared,” he said
“We play country cricket and we are here to have fun.
“Cricket is a game we play for fun and various individuals, for whatever reason, could be having a bad day and think they are playing for Australia.”
Howsan like many others just loves cricket.
“I love cricket because I get to meet people, I get out in the sun and get a bit of exercise – you win, you lose and you have fun,” he said.
The cricket president said the local volunteers make a huge commitment to cricket and they need support.
Howsan added while it’s a summer sport, cricket takes a 52-week commitment from the volunteers as they have to sort out things like winter programs.
Cricket, like many other sports, struggles to get volunteers and the work fall onto the shoulders of a few people
He said the association and all clubs would love an injection of volunteers.
Howsan hopes with Cricket Australia’s current review they will stress the need for better respect for players and officials.
Importantly, local cricket has its issues but is not going to die.
“Shoalhaven cricket will survive but it needs a lot of help,” he said.
“At a local level, the club's committee members and volunteers are pretty much maxed out and they can’t do more than what they are doing.”
There could be good news ahead, according to Howsan.
Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia will be appointing a cricket manager for the Shoalhaven soon.
“That will begin the process to redevelop the game,” he said
“Their goal is the bridge the gap between schools, clubs and junior players.
“So hopefully if we begin the process now, then in five to 10 years time we will be back in the position we want.”
However, he stressed more people are still needed to help in local cricket roles.
He personally spends well over 30 hours a week on various cricket administration roles
In a perfect world, he said Shoalhaven cricket needed a full-time administrator but Howsan knows there is no money to fund such a position.
Howsan has been president for the last three years, a club delegate for 10 years and started playing locally in the 1984/85 season..
Tomorrow we chat to a cricket tragic who has ‘bent his back’ in Shoalhaven cricket since he was a lad.