Playing cricket is one of the great Aussie pastimes, and we Australians are pretty good at it. With strong national teams that generate huge media interest and many iconic players both past and present, Australia has a reputation as a leading cricketing nation. Cricket is Australia’s most popular sport in summer, and 328,000 adults and 631,000 children regularly play the game. Not only is it a highly competitive sport, it’s also a great recreational pastime as well. How many of us have played a game of cricket at the beach, the park or in the backyard? And while many of us would find the summer incomplete without sitting down to watch the Boxing Day Test, or a 20-20 match, have you ever considered playing the game yourself? Or getting your children involved? If not, read on for some compelling reasons to give cricket a try this summer.
Playing cricket is great for kids’ health and fitness, and requires kids to be fit, strong and coordinated. There’s lots of sprinting, running, catching and throwing involved, so kids playing cricket develop strength, fitness, stamina, balance and hand-eye coordination.
Cricket is also a great way to keep kids active, which we all know is extremely important in today’s sedentary world. Today’s children are less physically active than ever, which will encourage them to live sedentary lifestyles as adults. This has huge repercussions for the physical and mental health of Australia as a nation, and quite frankly it’s somewhere Australians don’t want to end up. Children can increasingly be found in front of a screen rather than in front of the stumps – and it’s not doing them any favours. Developing muscles and burning calories while playing a game of cricket is good for kids’ physical health, both now and into the future.
Cricket gets kids out in the fresh air (and away from their screens) giving them all the benefits of moving outdoors. They can breathe fresh air, get some Vitamin D (although sun protection is extremely important) and have the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy time spent outdoors.
For more on why you should get outside to get fit, click here.
To succeed at cricket, children need to learn and sharpen mental skills such as focus, concentration and strategic skills. Cricket is not a simple matter of running a distance, or swimming a black line – cricket requires players to think about and calculate each move strategically. Kids need to be constantly thinking during a game of cricket – about how to get the batsman out, where to hit the next ball, where there are gaps in the field etc. These mental skills learned through playing cricket can be transferred to other areas, such as schoolwork or jobs. Cricket will keep kids’ minds as well as their bodies healthy, and also builds resilience and discipline.
Playing in a team brings many benefits to kids, and improves their social skills such as communication, cooperation, learning how to cope with winning and losing and sportsmanship. These things are much easier to learn in a team environment such as cricket, rather than in everyday situations.
Cricket also requires a strict code of conduct for players, and players at all levels from grassroots to international must observe correct behaviour, respect and fair play rules. Unlike many other sports, where arguing with the umpire is practically part of the game, you can’t argue with the umpire when you’re given out in cricket. You just have to accept the decision and walk. Cricket helps kids grow into adults who respect others and respect the rules.
Cricket also allows kids to meet and interact with others who may become friends and teammates well into the future. Camaraderie is a great part of being on a cricket team, and for many kids, playing cricket is all about being with their friends. It’s a great social as well as competitive sport. Celebrating wins, as well as recovering from losses, is much more fun when done with friends. As well, cricket gives kids fantastic role models to look up to and try to emulate, from their coaches or older members of their club to the national players.
For more reasons why every kid should play sport, click here.
Kids cricket sets and gear are quite cheap and readily available (to see Bennett’s range of cricket gear, click here), so cricket really can be a game for anyone and everyone. As mentioned above, cricket is known for its sportsmanship and etiquette, with bad language and behaviour unwelcome during the game. This means parents can relax, knowing their children are in a wholesome environment that encourages good behaviour, not loutish antics. There are many grassroots cricket initiatives happening nowadays for kids (such as the Milo programs), and formats have evolved so that beginner versions of the game don’t take all day. Family outings to the cricket might also be on the cards – which can lead to great family bonding time.
All the reasons why kids should play cricket also hold true for adults. Cricket will also improve adults’ endurance, stamina, balance, coordination, strength and physical fitness, and will provide them with opportunities to sharpen their focus, concentration and strategic thinking abilities. It’s just as important for adults to fit physical activity into their lives, and a game of cricket will go a long way towards helping them find their 30. Players will get the chance to connect with and be part of a like-minded community which offers many social opportunities (particularly once the game is over!). It’s a family friendly sport, and in many clubs you can find different generations of players from the one family all playing together. And most of all, it’s fun.
There are options for everyone, from playing the long format of the game to the speed version of 20-20, and you can choose your level of involvement. You can usually find a local club in your area, and most will have different grades to suit all levels of player from beginner to experienced. If you don’t want to join a club or play competitively, you can always join in with your kids for a game in the backyard or help them practice their skills.
So consider giving cricket a go this summer – it’s an exciting, challenging and wonderful game, and you might find yourself hooked before too long.