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What a fantastic idea Robin. You, me and big Ivan propping up a bar putting the world to right. I think there would be more rum and coke drunk than sense talked!
its time for a northern ireland cricket team tour. destination barbados in 2010, with i mccombe and staffy managing and coaching and jc hiles planning. touring party of 15? picked purely on merit over the next 2 summers, what an incentive for our cricketers to know that 2 super seasons with bat or ball could book a place on the plane to barbados to represent your country. i,ll be speaking to a few people early summer about interest and planning.
All of the evidence points the other way. The most successful clubs in NCU and North West cricket history have been cricket only clubs. Waringstown, North Down, Lisburn, Downpatrick, Brigade , Donemana, Strabane, Sion Mills with more occcasional successes for others.
My vision (fear) of the future (10 years) is that clubs as we know them will disappear. They will be commercial/community/government funded organisations providing sports and social facilities. They will run on a model of grants per youth member/coaching provision plus business sponsorship and individual membership. Already old fashioned fundraising is dying out. Now guys would rather have a tenner or twenty pounds added to the membership than sell raffle tickets. It is getting more and more difficult to get administrators. Rewind thirty years and look at the changes in clubs because that same pace of change will incur in the next ten max.
When I look at a town like Antrim we have a cricket club with a long history but like everyone else struggling to make ends meet, the Rugby club has gone (or maybe has one team from four ten years ago), the Hockey club drifts along with no clubhouse to call their own, Chimney Corner Football Club seem to be always only a week from going out of business and the Gaelic Club limps along.
Now surely sometime/someone will sit down and think why not ONE super sports club in a catchement area of 50/60,000 people. With all the goverment community/health and fitness initatives/lottery funds etc is this not a sensible approach. Now what do we as cricketers want from our club? A good ground, practice and changing facilities and somewhere to enjoy a bit of craic after the game. I could see that being provided by the Super Club. I might then feel more like going there twelve months of the year and either watch or play one of the other sports. Alternatively I think clubs will struggle. Already coaches are able to avail of money from Youth Sport and some companies now have community funds for coaching. I don't think today's youngsters pay a lot of attention to history or tradition.
You appear to have answered your own question here. Your idea that in 10 years we will have clubs with paid groundsmen, managers etc just won't happen. If you do the figures, clubs would need in excess of £40K a year before you even start to think about paying players. Even after the euphoria and success of the Carribean last year, the ICU has found it tough to raise money, so what chance would clubs have?
I would also suggest you look very carefully at Rugby, which has gone down the route of paying players. There isn't a club in the land that is not in financial difficulties because of it. Most have already sold the family silver, and are up to their necks in debt. What have they achieved? Very little. All the guys who arrived at new clubs to great fanfares, have now disappeared along with their swag, and the clubs have nothing to show for it. Promising players that have been nurtured by the clubs have been cherrypicked by Ulster, and been lost to their clubs. There has been no compensation. In other words the clubs have paid for the development of players, and got nothing for it.
Does this scenario sound familiar ?
On a different tack, there is obvious concern that some players don't get the chance to progress upwards as they have not been involved in any Irish squads, and they have no Inter-pro competition to demonstrate their skills. I would suggest that the money that used to be spent on the Inter-pros is now used on the coaching set-up, and that this has proved to be a very successful one. We can't have it both ways, as we don't have the money. As an observation, I would also suggest that players DO get noticed, but that success at club level does not necessarily mean a player can play at a higher level. Higher standards quickly reveal weaknesses in players' techniques which don't manifest themselves at club level. Coaches can see this, which is why some players appear to be omitted from Irish squads. This may not be ideal, but we are not living in an ideal world. I would ask you to name players who have genuinely missed out. In my view there won't be too many candidates.
Ivan, it's great to have ambition, but it has to be realistic. Good luck.
Staffy while I don't disagree with that do you not get a feeling that the Irish team is drifting away from the ordinary club player.If the ICU (Limited) could levy each club (and ultimately club members) say £10, £20, £30 whatever per team place (ie 4 teams = 44 team places) what uproar would there be or would all club committees vote for the good of the national team. I don't think so somehow. We are a minority sport trying to play with the big boys and just can't offer a serious marketing investment for most companies. A lot of the money that is apparently available to NCU players seems to come from secret funds. I can't think of any company actually sponsoring a local player (or overseas for that matter) and getting recognition for it in the past ten years. So Warren Duetrom doesn't have an easy job in raising money for cricket in Ireland. I just wonder what the finances of some of the county sides would look like without the share of the tv money they get each year. What changes for the better do we expect from the new corporate set up of the ICU?.
Wouldn't it be a great start to try and secure some funding for the Ireland International team for starters. The players put in way more committment than ordinary club players and increasingly are required in the off season. We can worry about club players after that.
While it is important to listen to what someone with the standing in the game that Simon has to say things really are moving at pace in all walks of life. In business if you got a new idea up and running it normally took a couple of years for people to realise what was happening and start to compete. Now you are lucky to get two months. As we plan for the future of our game have we stopped to think what the sports/cricket clubs of the future will be like. I personally think that within 10 years they will be run as businesses with paid administrators, groundstaff, coaches etc. I really think in our "time poor society" the days of the volunteer is on the way out. No more willing horses for us to flog. People will just turn up train, play, maybe even socialize (dining etc) and then head home. This "vision of the future" isn't how I personally would like to see it go but the pace of change is upon us. Maybe it's better to change than "be changed".
Interesting article on Ulster league. Personally I thnk this is the way forward. There is a huge gulf between club cricket and the international scene. The introduction of an Ulster league woud certainly mean that the top club players would be playing a higher standard of cricket each week. It also does mean that the clubs that can afford to pay players will compete at the higher level. I dont think you can stop the payment of players but it could be controlled by the introduction of a "transfer window", say March each year. This would avoid the constant runour mill concerning the movement of players.
I assume there would still be promotion and relegation so I dont see how an ambitious club from the lower leagues would be prevented from making progress.
My own preference would be for a two division Ulster league and with lower leagues then split on the regional NCU/NW basis.
I also like the concept of an All Ireland league, although I do appreciate this introduces the problem of lengthy travel and associated cost.
I am well aware that things are not as they once were, but " this is 2008 " does not mean that it is right. My point was and is that clubs generally cannot afford to pay players, and that if the money was spent on facilities, ( which wouldn't emigrate, like players, ) then it would be much better for the game. There was an interesting discussion after the ICU agm yesterday, centred on the subject of pros. It was argued that they have improved our standards by their presence. My view is that it is not the pros, but the facilities that have done so. The wickets we play on now are far better than they were, mainly due to covers. The effect has been to improve batsmen by leaps and bounds. However, with a maximum of only 10 overs to bowl, young bowlers simply do not get the chance to learn their trade with the result that we do not produce any. Should you want to shout, "what about Boyd Rankin ?", my answer would be that he is 6'7" tall. On good wickets, he will get bounce, and wickets. On the slow muddy pitches of old, he would have gone back to farming.
However, I digress and repeat - if players move around, the future of clubs will be in jeapordy. If you look at clubs today, their alicadoos are guys who spent their playing days at that club. Without them, there won't be any money raisers, so nobody will get paid.
The success of the Irish team which we all now enjoy is due to a lot of hard work over the last 20 or 30 years in setting up under-age progression, not due to hired guns brought in to achieve results. In my view there is no reason to believe club cricket is any different.
Semi Professional.Player contracts.Ulster League.Changing World.Is the momentum carrying in this direction ?.Why not a few like minded enthusiasts getting together and formulating a way this could be done while fitting in to the masses.Then go to the Unions with a proposal.At least an independent group would have more scope to "think outside the box ".This semi pro league could be the stepping stone to the Irish team.
First time on your site. You need more postings and you'll get them if you continue with these interesting articles. I liked Simon Corlett's comments but money talks. I'm a traditionalist too and fear a breakaway league of purely amateur cricketers might be coming if this is not controlled. They have it in local football and it works. Also if the top 4-6 teams were in an Ulster League wouldn't this achieve the same result? They'd be playing their semi-professional cricket and the rest of the clubs would be getting on enjoying their sport.
Simon things have changed since your day and some clubs are going to make a big impact while others drop back. Look at your own club in the last 20 years. Going, going, gone. Now they have re-invented themselves and CSN will be a stronger club. CI and CSN have taken the place of the old NICC and Woodvale and very soon they'll take over the place of North Down and Waringstown, The world has changed and if you can't beat them join them. This is 2008.
Simon if you were at your peak you'd be offered 10K for certain. Most of what you say is right but you don't expect the clubs to agree do you? Egos or ambition either way they want success and some have the means to buy it. North Down won't get much sympathy because they were involved in it too in the 90s. I think Clarence is right with player contracts because it will bring some order to all this tapping. We're now as bad as the hillbillies in the North West.
Proudly playing for North Down until 2003 after our successes in 2000 i predicted that North Down would dominate NCU for at least the next decade.
At the close of 2007 they are an even better side than the one of 2000. Only Bangor 2004, Waringstown and Instonians have attempted to compete with them. The question is how do other clubs close the gap.
But it seems a new masterplan has been unveiled - throw crazy money at the best 6 players on the team.
2008 I still expect them to be the top side, masterplan or not.