THE president of Dunfermline and Carnegie Cricket Club says league bosses should consider introducing a 20-over version of the game to preserve participation.
As the McKane Park club prepare to bowl their first ball of the East of Scotland Cricket Association league programme in just over a fortnight’s time, Richie Barclay has expressed concern that the time needed to play matches each week is having an adverse impact on numbers playing club cricket.
And he believes that introducing a shortened version of the game could be the solution that makes the sport grow across Scotland.
Despite Press Sport reporting last week that Dunfermline and Carnegie had seen numbers remain at a similar level after growing last year, Barclay believes that the 20-20 game should be encouraged, expressing his fear that the game could disintegrate if it doesn’t embrace change.
“Depending where we’re playing, you could be leaving here at 10am and not be back until 8-9pm; for 20 weeks of a season, that’s a lot of commitment,” he said.
“When you look at sports like football, rugby or hockey, I think people would have more inclination to rock up at one and be home by four.
“What got me into cricket was playing 20-20s games after work on a Wednesday night when I was down in Shropshire, and you can still play like a regular game but just for a shorter time.
“People who say that it’s bad for cricket have, usually, played all their lives and have had an understanding family.”
He continued: “For example, we had a player who came with us to Dunbar for a game; we left at 8.30am and didn’t get home until 9.30pm. He was in for two overs and decided he couldn’t commit the time, so we lost someone because of it.
“From the feedback I get, numbers are diminishing and sport dies if doesn’t move on.
“I will have to at least look at small over games because, to keep the bigger game going, we need to encourage the shorter game.”
It’s not just 20 over cricket that Barclay is looking to encourage – he wants to increase female membership at Dunfermline and Carnegie in the hope of creating a female team.
He added: “We have two teams (in the East of Scotland leagues) and a team who play on Sundays and, if the demand is there, we’re looking for ladies to play.
“The club’s not exclusively for boys; females can play in our teams too but our plan as we go forward is to try and evolve a ladies team.
“Unless we have more people we can’t create a separate ladies team but Cricket Scotland are keen to get that part growing, and there’s nothing stopping women from coming along and playing, or even getting involved in other ways.
“There’s something for everyone in cricket and anyone’s welcome to come along and play; any age, any size and whether you’re male or female, it doesn’t matter.
“The club has levels for everyone.”