In his blueprint for the future of the national game, Lord MacLaurin, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said while hard-ball cricket properly coached and supervised on good facilities was the ideal, there was a need for a "fashionable and safe game" played with a softer ball which would be easy for teachers to supervise.
"The best way to encourage cricket in those secondary schools in which the game is not played is to create a game that the pupils demand to play," he says in the ECB document, Raising the Standard, published last week. The board has commissioned an advisory group to draw up recommendations for the format of this "development game".
Other recommendations outlined in the blueprint include: * encouraging school-club links; * making county boards accountable for inter-school and district cricket and ensure they co-ordinate all junior representative cricket to prevent talented youngsters being over-played; * extend the two-day format to under-17 and under-19 county teams; * rationalise the number and format of competitions and festivals to ensure a steady progression; * establish centres of excellence at universities other than Oxbridge.
Hubert Doggart, president of the English Schools Cricket Association, welcomedthe report, saying it acknowleged the role played by ESCA and the goodwill and support of teachers.
Although the association would lose some of its independence to the new structure, he said, it would co-operate in the board's attempts to reverse the demise in cricket played in secondary schools.
He was pleased that the main competitions organised by the ESCA would remain as part of the ECB's development programme.
Raising the Standard: the ECB management board blueprint for the future playing structure of cricket is available free from ECB, Lord's Cricket Ground, London NW8 8QZ