21 May 2014

Local cricket has evolved at such a rapid rate in recent times that it would be impossible to keep everyone happy within the fold.


  There’s no doubt the NCU under Andy Clement’s stewardship is reaching out to clubs for guidance and closer contact, but in reality there will ne no quick-fix for many of the main issues and frustrations and disillusionment might drive more and more cricketers from the sport.

  If one thing has emerged in recent times it is the ineffectiveness of the Annual General Meeting as the voice of NCU cricket and the platform for debate and discussion of topical issues. Of course, the AGM still has a place within our constitution and the election and ratification of appointments and rule changes are vital for good governance, but the Internet and general discussion during the season are better communication mediums on the key issues that challenge the future and well-being of the game we love.

  Recent AGMs have been very tame affairs and almost boring. Long gone are the great debates that brought controversial issues to the table and long gone are the senior players whose voices brought integrity and passion to every discussion. AGMs are almost devoid of active senior players these days and some leading clubs don’t even send their quota of delegates to the meeting. Controversial issues are rarely debated and once the proposer has outlined the intent behind a rule change a vote follows almost immediately. But rule changes and tweaks aren’t the real issues facing local cricket these days and perhaps the NCU hierarchy needs to look outside the box to bring these issues to the table.

  The issues include-

Professionalism in the local game-should it be controlled?

Should we have a separate Amateur League for clubs that shun professionalism?

The influx of overseas players in the top teams-should it be controlled?

The loss of ageing players from the game-what’s gone wrong?

The drastic decline in the number of umpires-can we reverse the trend?

Starting times for top games on Saturdays-should it be 12 noon latest?

Length of games outside the senior leagues-have we got it right?

Are we doing enough for youth cricket?

How can we get more people at games?

Are spectator facilities at grounds remotely adequate?

Cricket Ireland-are the NCU and its clubs on the same page?

  There are probably a lot more topics, but it would be foolhardy to tackle them all at the same time. My suggestion is that the NCU should hold at least one but preferably two Extraordinary General Meetings during the season and that all clubs should be mandated to send at least three representatives and that they should include the club captain and chairman. It doesn’t matter how many teams each club has because the purpose of these meetings is to generate debate and healthy discussion on the key issues that are challenging the future of the game. The importance of having these meetings during the season when enthusiasm and availability is at its highest should not be underestimated. If the current AGM has become dis-functional and not moved with the times then let’s look at other structures and move forward.

  In fairness to the NCU there have been roadshows and presentations in recent times, but they have had mixed results so something is not quite right about them.

  Times have changed and there are serious threats to the future of the game. To do nothing is not an option.

 Clarence Hiles


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