Sorry but I still can’t shake feeling the cricket in the Shoalhaven is struggling.
These thoughts pretty much struck me when the juniors and seniors bowled their first deliveries for the 2018/19 season.
Yes, I know people are saying I am beating things up, that the registration rates show the numbers are not as bad as we have been suggesting and that I am sympathetic to a club or clubs.
We will address these issues later but I think it’s important to go back and review why I started to have fears for local cricket.
I was set to go off and take some junior photos round one back last year, thinking you beauty I will start with the under 11s and end with the under 16s.
I then realised the Shoalhaven does not have an under 16s competition which came as a bit of a shock.
All junior grades are important but the under 16s, to me, was always one of the most crucial.
The under 16s is an important breeding ground and feeds the next wave of grade players up into the senior ranks.
My fear is that it’s going to be hard to get an under 16s competition next season and some serious development work needs to be done pretty soon.
Some under 14s players would now be thinking - where am I going to play next season?
So with the lack of under 16s eating away in my mind, I headed off to the seniors in the arvo and my worries continued.
Went to a third-grade game, took some pics, headed up to the scorers to get some names and they had four players standing around. Two others were batting and two were umpires.
They had eight players for the first round - not good.
Then in first grade, I saw blokes playing in first grade I had never seen play in this division before.
No offence to these guys but it showed the top grade was struggling for players.
I mulled it over over a week and headed out the following Saturday.
I bumped into a family - dad and two sons playing a second-grade match.
Dad had signed up to play fourth grade but reluctantly agreed to play second grade to help the family’s club.
Then, at the next few lower grade matches I even was asked if I wanted a game because they were a player or two short.
Now if you want an unfit 54-year-old to play in your team then you must be struggling.
I still maintain all is not well with Shoalhaven and had many on the record and off the record talks about it.
Some of the things I have been told are just not good.
I was told a club had poached another club’s under 11s player - seriously how can taking an under 11s player from another club be good for the game?
In response to one of my pieces, it was suggested the issue was a ‘blow up’ but I disagree.
I am seeing things and hearing things that suggests all is not well with the sport and the numbers are declining.
I did not start this series for my own benefit - I wanted to get the debate going and maybe get more people to volunteer for the association, local club or even sign up to play.
Talk to any club or association volunteer and they will tell you they need more helpers.
I have been on the Bay and Basin Cricket Club committee, the Nowra Athletic Club committee and the Bay and Basin Junior Australian Football committee and being a volunteer is rewarding and fun - so give it a go.
It was also suggested the only reason I was looking into local cricket I was “sympathetic” towards a local club.
The only club I have any sympathy for is the St George Illawarra Dragons and I am pretty sure they don’t play in the Shoalhaven cricket competition.
Cricket is a great game and I want it to be strong in the future.
Anyway if you see me at a cricket game, come up for a chat and share your thoughts.