Cricket is another religion in Australia. It is watched by many and played by some.
Children in Australia often start their cricket career using a dustbin as stumps at the side of the house.
Most schools are now well equipped and usually have a cricket team. Many children dream of playing in the ashes and beating the English or the Poms as they are called here.
The game of cricket has been played in Australia for more than 200 years, with the first recorded match taking place in 1803. A report in the Sydney Gazette of 1804 indicates the sport was well established in the new colony by that time. It is now one of the most popular sports in Australia at local, domestic and international levels. A survey taken in 2007 indicated that 59% of the general public expressed an interest in the game, a figure surpassing that of any other Australian sport.
A particular advantage of cricket is that it is a non-contact sport which is suitable for both boys and girls to participate in from an early age. In fact, children from the age of 5 years can start by joining the Milo in2Cricket scheme. This program provides a pathway through junior cricket clubs for boys and girls to learn the game and begin playing in competitions.
This introduction to the sport is an excellent way for children to develop the skills they need physically and mentally as part of a team effort. The Milo in2Cricket program is carried out under the auspices of Cricket Australia and is aimed at the 5-10 years age group, where they learn the basic skills and principles of play in an environment that is safe and lots of fun.
This specially designed 6-12 weeks program teaches not only how to play the game, it also helps to develop fitness and social skills, as well as an understanding of sportsmanship.
Although cricket is a non-contact sport, it is important to wear protective clothing as the game uses a hard cricket ball. Safety issues are therefore taught from the first introduction to the game.
Children wishing to commence playing for a team can do so by inquiring at their local cricket club, where they can join a team for the under 10 age group. Cricket is played in the summer months and the Clubs usually begin to take registrations from late August for the coming season.
Apart from the club structure, cricket is also widely available for children through their schools. Many schools have cricket teams and participate in inter-school competitions. School teams are to be found throughout the country, in both private and State-run schools.
For the real fans, those kids can join others who share their cricketing passion at Australian Sports Camps.
There is a high standard of coaching available at local clubs. Some of the bigger schools will also have special coaching classes. Most coaching courses are run during school holidays or in the evening on weekdays.
Cricket Australia will also offer specialist coaching schemes.
Naturally, coaching is mostly concerned with techniques for batting and bowling. Experienced coaches will suggest improvements to the way players bat and ball. Guidance is also likely to be offered on fielding skills.
A larger club will be able to offer net practice that is based on the level of ability of the players. This means children are grouped with others at a similar level and not be embarrassed in trying to keep up with the other players.
An added advantage of being coached through the local cricket club is that the potential of the player can be more easily seen and this may open opportunities to join a higher grade of team within the club.
Other Forms Of Cricket
There are a number of informal variations of the game also available, including indoor cricket, beach cricket and backyard cricket. In these instances, the rules are modified by the participants for convenience and to make the game more enjoyable.
It is very common for families, and especially teenagers, to play backyard cricket. This is done in streets, parks and driveways - in fact, anywhere that is convenient for the players. Because of the lack of space and equipment, tennis balls and homemade bats may be used, along with any suitable objects for a wicket.
In terms of participation and community interest, cricket is the most popular of the sports played in Australia and children's teams can be found in the largest cities and in many of the smallest towns. The game is often said to play a key role in Australia's identity. Needless to say, at the top level, Australian teams are among the most dominant.