Here's Mark Landau's take on the hot topic that is a merger of Jewish cricket teams in London.
I can understand the viewpoint of those that want to play with their ‘mates’, but we are starting to reach a critical point. I’ve worn the hat of a Maccabiah manager and can testify to how hard it was to find young Jewish cricketers of the requisite ability. The search will need to begin again at the end of next summer, and at the moment I would struggle to identify more than four or five junior cricketers at the right sort of level.
An open side would be pretty much selected from those that went last year, plus those that went for the junior competition, with the odd one or two to come in. We are not bringing in new talent in any numbers, and need to in order to give Team GB the best chance of gold in 2017.
I have played in the Chess Valley League for Leverstock Green over the last couple of years, as well as for Vale this year – this competition is the perfect opportunity for Jewish cricketers to test themselves – teams at the level Vale are competing at and above are generally made up of reasonable Saturday league cricketers.
We have the opportunity to progress, and play a really good level of Sunday cricket, which could really challenge and enthuse the cream of Jewish cricketers. But it needs a level of commitment. It needs a squad to commit to the games, to commit to training, to commit to becoming a ‘team’. It should be the breeding ground for Maccabiah cricketers, and an aspirational thing for the community’s cricketers.
There will always be room for the recreational cricketer, for those that just want a relaxed game with good people in the sunshine. The current set up, with 3 or 4 clubs struggling to find an 11 each Sunday, doesn’t cater for the weekends when one team has 13 or 14 available, meaning two or three players miss out on the chance of a game.
If we were to pool our resources, I’m sure we could get at least three teams out every week throughout the summer. There would be the opportunity for those that want the chance to compete for places in the Chess Valley team to do so, and even for one or two sides to play in other competitive formats.
If we could make a genuine community club, with a Colts set-up feeding into the senior set-up, then surely there would be less danger of losing players, either to their Saturday club sides, or to the game entirely.
Ideally I would want to see a community side playing Saturday league cricket, and pushing to move through the levels. This would need a lot of forward planning. Most Saturday league structures would see a new club needing to enter at the bottom of the pyramid and work their way up. For those that already play a high level of Saturday cricket, would there be the motivation there to spend 5-10 years climbing through a league structure to get back to the level they were at previously?
Having played with MAL for seven years I can understand the attraction of maintaining established friendships and relationships. But I love the competition as well, and want to see the very best Jewish cricketers playing together, at the highest level they can, and raising the profile of the game within the community.
Mark Landau (LMV and Leverstock Green, formerly MAL and manager of Team Maccabi GB Junior Cricket at 2013 Maccabiah Games)
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