Junior Cricket Guidelines
Coaching and managing junior cricket teams is challenging as they transition to ‘real’ cricket. When they are out, they are really out, and opportunities can’t be guaranteed for every junior in every game. This is a transition period for parents as well – they are used to seeing their kids bowling the same number of overs as everyone else and facing the same number of balls when they are batting.
We understand that a transition must happen and that fostering junior talent is important, but we want to make sure that our club has balance. Wilston Norths juniors is about providing opportunities, and those in charge of junior teams need to help ensure that all kids get a ‘good crack at cricket’. Otherwise, they’ll leave the game.
Every family is paying the same fees, and sharing opportunities correlates with teams staying together longer. This is better for the club with higher registrations, better for the juniors who stay in a team sport for longer, and better for the talented kids who will have more of their mates to continue playing with.
The below are not prescriptive, hard, or fixed rules, but as a club we want to avoid feedback of un-balanced opportunities, as we have found that where this happens, kids are lost to our great club.
Be a coach/manager who understands that opportunity and participation is vital for team harmony, and that a happy team stays together.
Guideline 1: We want to avoid any junior missing a bat two weekends in a row – most kids want to bat every week. Very rarely will you find juniors who want to play 10 or 11 every game of the season (if that’s the case then there will be no problem). But for consideration; no player to be number 10 and/or 11 two weeks in a row. See rotation examples below.
Guideline 2: Provide talented juniors with different scenarios – don’t open with the same kids every week. Give others an opportunity to survive opening spells and work on their defence. It will also provide an opportunity for the talented batters to come in ‘cold’ and need to score quickly. This is a valuable skill, particularly given the trend to shortened matches i.e. 20/20.
Guideline 3: Over the course of a match (and season) spread batting and bowling opportunities – you should apply logic with this. If a batter faces 75 balls (25% of all balls faced in a 50 over match), then bowl them sparingly in that match, if at all. If a batter scores a century in round 1, play them down the order in round 2. Over the course of the season, keep an eye on participation levels i.e. balls faced plus balls bowled for all juniors, to make sure that there isn’t a cause for frustration.
Guideline 4: Bowling spread; juniors lower down the order in a match should get more overs than the top order, and they should bowl the majority of their overs prior to the top order starting their allocation. As a guide for a 50 over match with 11 players and 1 wickie who does not bowl – the top 4 should get 3 overs each, the next 3 should get 5 overs each and the 9, 10 and 11 should get 7 overs each. If the wicketkeeping is shared, the overs of the player sharing would be distributed between both players. This example totals 48 overs – so there would be discretion over the last 2 overs.
Guideline 5: Retirement of batters – determine a retirement policy that works for your team, and then communicate it to your players and parents. As an example only, a batter will be retired if:
– they are less than 5 after 20 balls,
– they are less than 10 off 30,
– they are less than 30 off 40,
– once they reach 50.
You could communicate the fact that there may be discretion depending on match strategy and quality of opposition.
Guideline 6: Share the captaincy – come up with a strategy that works for your team. The coach should help the captain with field placings, bowling changes and keeping the team motivated. When the coach steps in to make changes, they should explain to the captain why they are doing so – this way the captain can improve this aspect of his or her game.
Examples of rotation policies*
A. Rotation of the order by 5 places up each game.
E.g. in week 2; 11 goes to 6 (i.e. 11; 10-9-8-7-6) and 1 goes to 7 (i.e. 1; 11-10-9-8-7).
B. Split the team between batters ~1-6 and bowlers ~7-11.
Rotate the order in each group up by 2 each week
e.g. in week 2; batter 6 moves up to 4 (i.e. 6; 5-4) and batter 1 moves to 5 (i.e. 1; 6-5). Bowlers; 11 goes up to 9 and 7 goes to 10.
C. Make one up and ask for parent’s input – every team is different.
* N.B. variations of these can be adjusted to suit, keeping the general guidelines above in mind.