Can one club make us super?
Danny Caro investigates the super-club proposal
The collapse of the Maccabi Sunday League has been on the cards for some time. The standard of the league has seen a rapid decline with the top teams and players having moved to the Middlesex Sunday League.
Players are dropping out for a variety of reasons with the key factors including work and family commitments for a sport that on average, cuts into a large chunk of the weekend.
At the recent league AGM, the proposal of a Jewish super-club received a mixed reception with representatives from MAL, Belmont & Edgware among those unwilling to support it. But the demise of Casual Nomads has given all players food for thought and brought the prospect a step closer.
In the first of our two-part investigation into the collapse of the game in London, we hear from some of the key players, chairman, former chairman and Maccabiah managers.
Neil Myeroff, who co-managed Team GB Juniors at last year's Maccabiah Games believes that the problems are deep-rooted. He said: "I stopped my sponsorship of the (Stuart Neils) National Knockout Cup two years ago as I felt that Jewish cricket was going nowhere.
"Cricket as a whole has lost its popularity. Youngsters don't seem to want to play it any more. The hours involved no longer suit people."
Myeroff founded the BECC Inter-Schools Cup, a competition designed to "help drum up players for the future" of his club. Set up in 2008, JFS, Hasmonean, King Solomon and Immanuel College will contest this year's trophy. Fearing for the future of his own club, he said: "I'm not convinced that BECC will continue with any strength."
Myeroff believes that cricket enthusiasts are dropping out of the game due to outside pressures. "Women now have a greater say in society than ever before.
"They put their other halves under a lot of pressure and it causes conflict in the household and a lot of people are not prepared to do it."
Is a Jewish super-club the best way forward?
"People who want their club to tick over and remain will not want their top players to go to a super-club. But in principle the idea is a good one. It could well happen."
Co-manager of Team GB Cricket Juniors at 18th Maccabiah and former chairman of Belmont
"Yes. We should have one brilliant Jewish club and pool our resources. We can have four or five Sunday teams playing in a competitive league and ensure we attract all the Jewish players who will have an opportunity to be coached in a professional way at great facilities.
In addition, players can work their way through the club and play at their level. The team would form the basis of the next Maccabiah squads. This will take leadership and vision to pull off and it will also need clubs who are struggling or have folded to recognise the opportunity we have. If this happens then Jewish cricket can become stronger than ever."
Team GB Open Cricket manager at 17th and 18th Maccabiah Games)
"I wanted to have an MCC of cricket at Vale. They have everything in place. Now we need to grow it and play non-Jewish cricket, introducing an Over 50s team. We need to get the best players of all levels and train them up."
Team GB Cricket Chairman at 18th Maccabiah Games
"London Maccabi Vale's view is that the eventual way forward is through one London-wide Jewish club playing at several different levels in different leagues and competitions. That way would create it's own impetus and prevent the fragmentation that exists currently. This model was created by the Jewish cricket community in Melbourne many years ago and has proved to be extremely successful."
Chairman of London Maccabi Vale and the Middlesex Sunday League
"We have had it for years with Wingate in football so why not have it in cricket too? If we are realistic about the long-term future then there will only be one Jewish cricket club for certain, so let's put all of our money and resources into that now, combine our talent, and build for the future. Twenty years ago we had a vibrant Jewish cricket scene, 10 years ago we saw teams fold, or merge with others - now the time has come to evaluate the situation again, and start planning for the next 10 to 20 years ahead.
Former London Maccabi Vale chairman and Maccabi Cricket Committee member
"It's not a good idea. Clubs have to take more responsibility for their futures. Remember Mowbray, Olympus, FZY and Edgware Wanderers? These clubs have all folded or amalgamated. However, the only super-club that could be formed would have to evolve under the umbrella of Vale. They appear to have the infrastructure but I believe it would eventually spell the demise of Jewish cricket."
Team GB Co-manager at 18th Maccabiah Games and former Belmont captain
"As a player, the idea has some appeal, particularly if it was a Saturday/Sunday concept similar to the London Lions football team. It would benefit the better players. However, a huge part of what has kept me playing for MAL has been the opportunity to get involved in the development of a bunch of young players. Seeing them mature gives me intense satisfaction. At the end of the day I play my Saturday cricket for competition, and my Sunday cricket for fun. My fear would be that if a Jewish super-club was brought into existence, that the identity and spirit that we have built up at MAL would be lost. The vast majority of our members are massively opposed to the idea."
Maccabi Cricket committee and MAL vice-captain
"With the demise of the competitions there is now no real need for more than one club, where players can play with players of their own standard every week and the cream rises to the top. No doubt this will be shouted down again, as it is seen as a 'LMVCC propaganda tool', which is about as far from the truth as you can get. I hope that one day we do see a 'London Maccabi Lions CC' nurturing and supporting all Jewish cricketers, somehow I doubt it though.
Former Maccabi Cricket chairman