The English Cricket Board (ECB) are to introduce a national NatWest U19 Club T20tournament which will start in 2015.
The competition is to be introduced to hopefully help to retain youngsters within the club game rather than risking losing them to other sports or interests. The ECB have decided to act upon feedback they have received from youngsters who feel that they want to play a fast-paced game which mirrors the demands of the modern world.
The NatWest T20 Club tournament should give young players exactly what they crave. A short, sharp game of cricket based on the first-class T20 Blast. The ECB have also pledged to guide clubs on how to organise matches and give advice to club officials and volunteers.
Will this be a good addition to club cricket?
On the face of it it could be. However, can it really keep youngsters involved within the game? After all there are many distractions in the modern world and the drop out rate of young cricketers after leaving school is huge. University and work, along with other more general distractions, all conspire to take talents away from the game.
Youngsters do not want to spend a full day playing cricket in the longer format of the
game and taking away a young persons Saturday is not necessarily ideal in this fast-paced life we lead.
Australia have already introduced a T20 competition at grade cricket level which is a huge success.
Could the introduction of T20s for Under 19s detract from Test match cricket and only
enhance the shorter format to the detriment of other more established formats?
That is a possibility but first and foremost cricket needs to address the issue of youngsters leaving the game. If this new tournament does that then it has been a success.
Modernising club cricket is a step in the right direction as cricketers are more likely to want to play the game if they can become a hero to their team-mates in just a few overs of cricket.
Hopefully the ECB will regularly review the club T20 tournament in 2015, learn from the feedback from players and clubs alike, and in the process retain the talented young cricketers that are undoubtedly out there.
Will clubs be attracted to this new tournament or will they view it as another administrative headache in what are tough times for clubs all over the country?
The first year will no doubt show the ECB how successful their new tournament has been.
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