Ross Clarke is like many Kiwis, mad about cricket but also passionate about helping youngsters develop their cricketing skills.
Weedons Cricket Club has been the grateful recipient of Clarke’s passion, as he has been a crucial component in the development at the Canterbury Country cricket club.
There has been a huge increase in junior cricket involvement at Weedons CC in the two seasons since the World Cup.
“We’ve had 50% growth for the past two years. As a club, we have 31 teams, juniors, and seniors. Next year I could see us pushing 30 junior teams, which is something that we need to start planning for now,” Clarke said.
“The growth is still there from the way the BLACKCAPS play cricket.”
The club has also seen a significant increase in junior girl’s cricket.
“There was a handful of girls who had always come along and enjoyed it and, through that, word has slowly spread that cricket’s as much of a girl’s sport as a boy’s sport.
“When we started looking at the numbers and seeing basically a 50/50 split, it was at the stage that the committee saw we needed to do something about this.”
The club has since split up the girls and boys, running separate programmes for both groups of youngsters. Weedons reached out to a former international to run the girl’s sessions.
“Tori Burbery, who used to play indoor (cricket) for New Zealand, runs the junior girls with the assistance of a couple of 13 year olds who had been through the program.”
The club has also made sure the girls have their own identity, giving them a different kit to the one the boys play in.
It wasn’t the best start to the season for the Weedons Wildcats, but the team turned things around quickly, beating one of the boy’s teams in their third game of the season.
Community cricket in New Zealand continues to thrive from the spark received from the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
The Tuakau Cricket Club has made large strides in the last few years, going from having no junior cricket programme to having several junior sides.
The club’s turnaround occurred when a former first-team player investigated cricket-playing opportunities for local children.
The player realised that there was no local club to play cricket anymore, so with the help of a few former teammates, he managed to re-start a junior cricket programme at Tuakau CC.
That was several years ago, and the club now has a very stable junior cricket base.
One initiative the club introduced was to reward its junior cricketers for reaching 100 games for the club.
Said Tuakau CC member Roydon Gallagher: “It’s to reward to kids for playing for the club. They may not go on and play any more cricket but at least they’ll have the baggy (cap) for the rest of their lives.”