Idyllic settings for local cricket at Stow and Sandringham but do today’s generation of cricketers need more than pleasant surroundings to maintain their attention and attract them to the game?

It’s not just football that’s struggling for players.

Nor is it just golf that has issues with negativity around how long it takes to actually play the sport. 

Unfortunately for cricket, it suffers with both problems – and those issues do not look like slowing anytime soon.

Unlike football and golf, taking to the middle literally takes up a whole day. And that’s before you realise how much travelling now has to take place for sides in West Norfolk thanks to the sport’s decline of late.

The West Norfolk League was forced to merge with the Norfolk League in 2016 to arrest the reduction in the number of people willing to don their whites.

A statement on the now defunct league’s website, written in 2015, said: “This became a nagging eventuality as more and more clubs, either folded or moved to other leagues.

“The ‘coming together’ of our two leagues will be an exciting prospect for next season, with the four-tier structure ensuring a swift pathway to promotion through the divisions of the NCL. It also opens up opportunities for club’s wishing to progress, through the Norfolk Pyramid System, to the Norfolk Cricket Alliance.”

While the latter is indeed true, there’s no doubt that extra miles clocked up as a result of the merger will have turned even more players away from enjoying the soothing sound of a bit of bat on ball. Higher up the pyramid there is room and desire for the longer form of the game. But locally, surely now is the time to introduce a Twenty20-only league that can combat what I feel are the two main reasons behind cricket’s struggles locally.

Firstly, more derbies would increase interest – as would less time spent on the road. And for those who take their cricket less seriously, or perhaps are less talented, 20 overs tops-a-side is incredibly less time consuming and daunting. 

For me it’s the only way to tempt more people to take up our nation’s summer sport and maybe bring cricket back to villages like Hillington, who no longer have a team.


THE POLL

We asked… 

Will Rafa Nadal (17) fail to match, match or pass Roger Federer’s (currently 20) record of Grand Slam titles?

You voted… 

Fail to match: 52%

Match: 30%

Pass: 18%

  •  This week’s poll…

Would only playing Twenty20 tempt more people to play local cricket? 

Yes

No

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@GavinCaney