Bridlington Cricket Club skipper John Major eager to get junior stars back on track
Bridlington Cricket Club skipper John Major is eager to get back into action as a player and in his job helping to develop the sport in the region.
Major, who works for the Yorkshire Cricket Board as club and community development manager for East Yorkshire, said: “I have been furloughed for the best part of a year in my role, so to get cricket back up and running is great news.
“The ECB announced the return of the All Stars and Dynamos courses for juniors a week or so ago and if all the targets are met with regards to the roadmap we should hopefully be able to see every club getting children back playing on these courses from May 7.
“I think we realised as a club that we need to get juniors interested in the sport, as attracting the younger players to cricket with the All Stars scheme is the key to laying the foundations for the future of Bridlington Cricket Club.
“Getting junior teams together is building for the future, and while you may well lose a few junior players as they get older to other sports, the way to make your club strong is through getting the younger players involved.
“The All Stars has been brilliant as the kids get a bat, a ball and other stuff as well as the eight sessions of cricket for their money.
“I encourage parents to bring their children down if they’re interested but have never played before, they can come and try a session for free to see if they like it.
“The good thing about these All Stars sessions is the fun element, and that we also try to get the parents involved with this fun.
“We need to break down the old stereotypes of cricket as an old man’s game and cricket teas etc and the emphasis on coaches is not to be afraid to look a little daft sometimes and ideally the parents take part too and adopt the same approach.”
Major admitted there was an upsurge in interest from juniors after the World Cup final win for England in 2019, but said that this would have been massively increased if the games had been on terrestrial TV.
He said: “We had plenty of kids turning up to smash the ball all over like one of the England players after the World Cup, but if the game had been on terrestrial TV then it would have been a lot, lot more.
“The effect on the grassroots game after the 2005 Ashes win shows how much of an impact that terrestrial TV coverage can have on future generations, we could do with more games being shown on the likes of the Channel 4 or BBC.”
Looking closer to home, first-team skipper Major is hoping that the competition senior season will start on time for Bridlington CC in April.
“Obviously a lot depends upon the ECB announcements and whether the roadmap targets are met and everything stays on track for the dates that have been mentioned, but we are ready to go as a club as soon as we are allowed to get back out there,” he added.
“The York & District Senior Cricket League season starts for us on April 24, and we have pencilled in a couple of friendlies for the 10th and 17th, so hopefully we can meet all the requirements and get everything in place regarding the Covid-19 protocols for those matches.
“The bar may be open for those games even if it is only for outdoor drinks, as beer gardens are set to be open from April 12.
“We are looking to improve the club facilities too, as we are getting a new bowling machine in and a new mobile outdoor net as well .
“We will try to get ready with nets as well pre-season but this will depend on the various rules and restrictions which are set out by the ECB.”
Major has been impressed by the way that the ECB have navigated the problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 12 months.
He said: “I have to take my hat off to the ECB as I think that they have handled the effects of the pandemic very well, the assistance they have given clubs has kept a lot of them going through very tough times.
“Through my job I have seen the help that they have given the clubs around East Yorkshire, and a lot of the clubs who have bars are also getting assistance from the government for that side of it as well.”
Major knows how important it is to help clubs, considering the way that the number of cricket clubs at grassroots levels had started to decline since 2000.
He added: “When I started playing senior cricket as a 12/13 -year-old for Flamborough Cricket Club there were four or five divisions in the Scarborough Beckett League and then there was the Derwent Valley League as well.
“Most clubs had at least two teams during this period, but in recent years the leagues have suffered.
“It seems to be a generational thing though, when I was a youngsters the Playstations and games consoles were just starting to take off, but nowadays youngsters have a lot of distractions on top of the games consoles.
“They now have their mobile phones, tablets and in many cases both of these are as the same as having a laptop so it is harder to get them away from their screens and out onto the cricket pitch.
“But hopefully the time when children have been away from sporting activities due to the various lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic may make them more keen to get back into action when the restrictions are eased this summer.”