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How to Become a Youth Cricket Player in USA

Conundrums of cricket for parents, players, coaches, and audience

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Playing gully cricket in India is a natural process for both kids and adults living there. It’s not the same when you live outside India as the sport needs its own infrastructure and space as there’re good governance in place in those countries outside India or Indian subcontinent, especially the European and North American countries.  Countries in Middle East and other Asian regions have their own restrictions and regulations. This builds up the basic challenges of playing the sport in those countries.

Cricket being the second most followed, watched,  and played sport after Soccer in terms of population, it seems to be gathering more momentum in 21st century for its popularity and commercial values. Cricket is no more considered to be the laziest sport as it used to be, after the arrival of T20 genre.  T20 is the shortest form and the most exciting sport entertainment last two decades with nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat finishes.

Cricket in USA is one of the well-supported sports in the last ten years due to influx of immigrants from cricket-playing nations. Cricket seems to have caught the eyes of US sports system eventually, which was admitted by International Cricket Council (ICC) as a new Associate member in 2019.

That’s the progression of Cricket in USA till date.  Cricket in the east coast of USA is played only for five months — May through September. The sport is predominantly played indoor facilities from September onward till April.  It means that your kids’ timeline of playing Cricket is limited to this period. This limited timeline makes all the difference in one’s Cricketing goals and dreams in the east coast. Players here have to fight against all sorts of weatherly odds every year; an opportunity to prove one’s determination and dedication though.

Kids can ideally start playing Cricket from their 2nd or 3rd grade onwards by participating in U11 league matches  played on the 16-yard pitches while U12 on 21-yard pitches. U14 onward, youths play on the 22-yard pitch.  Pitch length not only exposes kids’ capabilities but also encourages them to align to the game.  Youths in USA are not as exposed to the game as youths in Asian countries like India, this curtails down their repertoire knowledge or secondary or tertiary learning.  This leaves two options to the kid to jump in and learn it — one option is to learn by self by watching videos or live games (which normally doesn’t happen in this part of the world due to other commitments each kids may have) and the other option is to learn from a coach who can be the kid’s parent or paid coach.

Kids are of two types – naturally skilled, gifted (someone like Kapil Dev, Steve Waugh, Anil Kumble, Allan Border, MS Dhoni to name a few)  and  methodical with assisted coaching (someone like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid, Grame Smith, Ricky Ponting to name a few). One will find more of the later breeds than the other. That says it all that the sport is more technique oriented and methodical than hitting the balls in one’s whims and fancy. That’s where coaching and coaches appear in the scene and practice becomes the key. Let’s take a closer look at who contributes percentage of learning to your kids.

Parents: Parents are the first starting point to the sport. Only when a parent is keen towards this sport by following, watching, conversing or playing Cricket will bring in more awareness to the kid. If the parent shares so much information and joy about the sport, it will further invoke the interest in the kid. If the parent can pick up the kit and start coaching the basics of basic techniques at home, then the kid gets all the possibilities of gaining confidence in playing out in the field. The more the parent participates; the more and the faster the kid will learn. The first hero of any kids is his or her parent. Thus, 25% of learning or practicing or playing or inspiration come from the parent’s initiative and involvement — this is just an observation and not scientifically proven though.

Coaches: Coaches play a role of a medical doctor who can only transform kids into a cricketer over a period of time unless the kid is gifted and dedicated. A coach for a group session or one-on-one sessions for a period of time will always accelerate performance with right techniques.  Coaches play a key role in instilling more confidence and fine-tuning techniques — if the kids know some basic techniques (which predominantly come from parent coaching). It’s advisable to let the coach to identify and decide kids’ natural abilities and skills to assess further, instead of forcing a batsman or a bowler or a fielder out of the kids. Coach thus contributes 5% of learning and playing.

No cricket team in the world depends on one or two players. The team always plays to win – Virat Kohli

Self: Kids those who eat, breathe, and sleep Cricket can only be the next Sachin or Ricky or Brian is a true statement in some cases but not applicable across. If your kid plays the game — for the sake of playing or just because of being forced or due to peer pressure or evading homework from school, then you need to revisit the roadmap and talk to your kid. This quick exercise shall save your as well as kid’s’ time and help you identify his or her real interests which could turn out to be a quest fo better Cricket as well. Good cricketers — like leaders — are not only born but also made. Alternatively, the kids can play Cricket as part of their physical exercise and grow into socializing and finding new friends. If the kid learns the techniques, exhibits them rightly, and executes them in the match smartly, then that will be a new beginning for him and the coach. That’s how a player contributes 70% of learning by self. Cricket is more of a team game where each department should chime in at the right level, right time, and right way to win a game. Making your kid an all-rounder is a good approach to let him or her enjoy the sport as there’re more chances to shine in at least one of the departments in a given game.

Myths: Fitness helps in any sport so does in Cricket. Fitness should not be construed as slim physical outlook. Great and good players like Sunil Gavaskar, David Boon, Mike Gating, Arjuna Ranatunga, Sachin, Virendra Shewag, and Andrew Flinch are all shot, plumpy, and stout during the peak of their career. Fitness is all about agility with which one moves across and flexibility with which one reacts to the situation(s).

Cricket is one of those few sports where physical specifications do not matter. If you think, your kid(s) or someone who you know has this physical or mental challenges, then he or she must try to play this sport and become a Cricket player right now, right here in USA.

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