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Wakefield Thornes ideas for moving the club forward. It had been the sports club of nearby Patons and Baldwins Mill but since the company’s demise in the 1980’s the facilities had become ‘careworn’. I’ve worked in sport and recreation all my life – facility management, sports development and for the last twenty plus years as a partner in a sports consultancy. So for me it represented something of a challenge to help the club improve both its facilities and via its junior section give it the ability to thrive and prosper. As I became less involved in coaching and more involved in the administration and management of the club, we’ve worked steadily to improve the clubs facilities. We constructed a new pavilion in 2010, had a very ‘lumpy’ outfield relaid in 2013 and had a tired square relaid in 2017. With the help of grants we’ve spent £300,000 on the ground in the last ten years. To me it was obvious even in the noughties that cricket was facing a very, very challenging future. It had disappeared from terrestrial tv and therefore the consciousness of many young people. The increased demands placed on administrators and volunteers – Clubmark, CRB/DBS, junior coaches, Health and Safety, electronic scoring – have all created the need for more personnel at a time when less and less people have the ability or inclination to meet the increasing demands of the sport. It was a case of adapt or die. In the tight urban fabric of West Yorkshire it seemed to me that what was once a strength of cricket was becoming a weakness. Clubs who thrived – virtually on every street corner – were now competing for a reduced number of players and administrators, reduced levels of spending, and limited grant aid. Yet at the same time they all had committed stalwarts – often from families associated with the club for many years – who didn’t want their club to be the next one to go the wall as Slazengers had done. So that was the challenge! The most rewarding part of my role? Well there are two. The first is that when we won the initial title in Abu Dhabi seven of the thirteen players we took for the week had been junior players at the club and had come through the Ron Hudson led coaching ‘school’. And that didn’t include England Under 19 and Yorkshire seamer Josh Shaw. Secondly, despite all the changes we still have the same secretary and same treasurer and as we did sixteen years ago. David Brooke and Kate Greening had put in many years before that to ensure the survival of the club so it’s pleasing they’ve enjoyed the good times too. The atmosphere at the club is buoyant. Whilst we’ve lost a couple of players from last season we’ve some high class replacements. Richard Foster rejoins from Hanging Heaton, Yorkshire Academy/2nd teamer Matty Taylor will be available on a regular basis and we’re shortly expecting the arrival of Indian slow left armer Satyajeet Bachhav who was the leading wicket taker in the Indian domestic T20 Youth development is absolutely vital to the club. It’s what the club is built on. It was the plan in 2003 and it’s still the plan. Unless you have a very rich benefactor you can’t succeed without it. Perhaps unusually for clubs in this area we run a third team on a Saturday - for which we’re always trying to find a ground! We use the third team as a means of ensuring a transition from junior cricket to competitive senior league cricket. It’s worked well – even the players such as Josh Shaw and Jared Warner did a stint in the third team. Like every cricket club I’d have thought our biggest challenge is retaining interest in the game amongst young people. Life has not been easy over the last ten years. The ECB’s current initiatives such as All Stars and ‘The Hundred’ have their work cut out to address at least fifteen years of decline. Other well-intentioned initiatives such as ‘Chance To Shine’ to my mind have given children the chance to play cricket in school, but the numbers transitioning to club cricket long term have been negligible. On top of which, since charges to schools were introduced, the numbers of schools doing Chance To Shine have dropped off dramatically anyway. In fact seven years ago we had eleven schools doing C2S in our catchment area. Last year we didn’t have one! I was in Australia last winter and went to several Big Bash matches. As long as British summers can replicate the balmy evenings of Adelaide and Melbourne, and as long as games attract the ‘family’ audience that a different sporting culture in Australia do, rather than becoming three-hour beer ‘fests’, I reckon we’ll be ok. I hope so as there are a lot of eggs in that particular basket! Article provided by Chris Frogett www.sportyorkshire.net 7