Debate: on the virtues of a London cricket merger

Talk of a possible merger between the top Jewish cricket teams in London continue. Here, two respected figures share their views

FOR (By Terry Hyman)

Many years ago the Jewish cricket leadership in Melbourne had the foresight to put aside any differences they may have had to form just one club, Maccabi Ajax, for all Jewish players to join and that club still prospers with any number of teams playing both Saturday and Sunday cricket. It caters for all age groups, boys and girls, of every standard from the lowest leagues to the high divisions of Grade cricket, which is the nearest one can get to the State teams.

I would advocate, not for the first time, a similar merger for the London area teams which can now be counted on the fingers of one hand. Not so long ago there were between 15 and 20 Jewish teams playing regularly. What has gone so wrong? We must recognise that the times we live in now have changed. Cricket can take up a lot of one’s leisure time and the demands of family, work, religion and, frankly, the computer age have had a devastating effect on the numbers of players willing to commit regularly, or sometimes at all, to competitive cricket. Don’t think that it is only Jewish clubs who are suffering. The whole cricketing fraternity is affected with many of the top London clubs unable to put out Sunday sides at all.

Forgive me for not including the Synagogue teams within this context. I know that there are plenty of people out there who want to support their shul activities and there is certainly a place for that sector.

I have been advocating a merger for several years now because I felt, together with others, that in the long term this was the only way Jewish cricket could survive. Now, more than ever, I know that this is the only solution. The three major clubs in London have been going for at least 40 years and I believe that any perceived differences between the clubs have long since evaporated. There is a serious short-term problem and action needs to be taken now.

We cannot be nostalgic over past glories, if indeed there were any, but must look to the future. If we want to have UK representation at the Maccabiah Games every four years, where are the players going to come from?
We need to have a proper centralised set-up to ensure that for all those Jewish players around, including those playing in predominantly non-Jewish cricket, there would only be one club that they could head to that provides Jewish cricket in the capital.

At London Maccabi Vale we run the only colts organisation for Jewish boys and girls. And what happens when they are too old for the colts? Whilst some stay at LMV others go off to different clubs, Jewish or otherwise, or give up altogether.

What is the point in providing this facility for players who then lose their sense of team identity by going in different directions? They need to have a club where they can stay together and improve year on year.

We all need to come together under the Maccabi umbrella to ensure that there is a future for Jewish cricket in London, certainly on Sundays at least. League cricket, friendlies, 20/20s, boys, men, girls and ladies, it makes no difference. We can cater for all with proper planning and leadership. I passionately believe that this is what we need now. Let’s give it a go.

Terry Hyman (Chairman of London Maccabi Vale)

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AGAINST

The main argument against one club I believe is that most Jewish cricketers play for the likes of MAL, Belmont & Edgware, Southgate and Chigwell not because of the standard of cricket they are playing but because they like playing with their friends.

I feel it would not appeal to the cricketer who is not able to or is not keen to play for the first XI of this new club to be told that they are playing for the 2nd team on any Sunday when their friends, who they have played with for a number of years, are playing in the 3rd team and, of course, vice versa.

I have certainly known cricketers who have sacrificed their place in a better team just so they can play with their friends who are in the lower team.

To be under the wing of a group of selectors who pick the three or four teams that play for the club would not appeal to them.

Also to be taken in to consideration is the fact that the clubs I have mentioned have been going for a number of years and there are a number of people at each club who simply want to keep that club going, whatever the standard of cricket they are playing.

Neil Myeroff (MAL and former chairman of Belmont & Edgware)

Email your thoughts on the great merger debate to dcaro@thejc.com.

Last updated: 5:18pm, August 5 2014