Winter program to build on recent junior cricket progress
AS junior cricketers around the region step up quests to make finals, Ipswich officials are already looking ahead to next season.
Dedicated Ipswich Cricket junior co-ordinator Jono Gibbs is planning to work with experienced regional coach Nev Paulsen to run a winter program for kids aged 10-12.
This is a key age group for youngsters to help bolster their basic skills before preparing to enter higher level competition.
Gibbs and Paulsen are hoping to stage sessions from May.
They also want to run representative selection trials for the 2021/22 season next month to make a headstart on junior development.
Given COVID had an impact on some junior teams this season, Gibbs said it was pleasing to see some gains being made in Junior Blasters and Masters Blasters sessions held around the region.
The latest Junior Blasters (beginners) program for kids aged 5-7 is being run at Strollers Cricket Club. That seven-week program continues each Monday afternoon at Redbank Plains for the next six weeks.
Other clubs like Marburg-Mt Crosby Thunder, Centrals, Fassifern and Northsiders have also been involved in Friday night Masters Blasters games for kids aged 7-10. They play under modified rules.
Some of the Junior Blasters have moved into the Master Blasters format since Christmas.
Gibbs said having the national Big Bash League showcased on TV since December has also increased interest in the sport among young players.
"We've had more of an influx of kids now because of the (Cricket Australia) advertising is out there (promoting junior programs),'' Gibbs said.
He said the under-15 age group was a key target where kids tend to drop out.
"We're going to have a look at rejigging an under-16 competition so that more kids might stay and play,'' Gibbs said.
Finals are planned next month for Cricket Ipswich's Level 2 (under 13), Level 3 (under 15) and Level 4 (under 17) competitions.
The youngest players in Blasters, Level 0 and Level 1 don't have finals.
"We didn't have finals last year because of the COVID stuff,'' Gibbs said.
Among the strongest junior clubs this season has been Laidley, which lead the Level 2A series.
However, clubs like Northsiders, Brothers and Thunder have fielded competitive sides across the grades.
Gibbs said the plan was to complete the junior finals before the senior teams contest their end of season deciders.
In most grades, it will be one v two playing off after the regular season.
Gibbs, involved with the sport since 1987, said the junior representative program had wrapped up for 2020/21.
In an earlier QT story this season, Gibbs was pleased to see more focus on the Master Blasters (under 9 based on ability) and Level 1 (under 11) kids playing two hour sessions on Friday nights for participation and learning.
"They are done so they can still have their weekends and that's got a lot of positive feedback,'' Gibbs said.
The Level 2 (A, B and C grades) and Level 4 cricketers play on Saturday mornings under a 30 over format.
The Level 3 players enjoy a 60 over competition over two Saturday afternoons.
Clubs like Northsiders, Brothers and Marburg Mt Crosby have been actively promoting new talent into the open ranks.
Thunder and Strollers fielded girls teams this season.