Friday, December 02, 2005

Young at 30? Or old at 18?

I've been waging a war on home turf recently, around the thorny question of when a youngster is genuinely young, and when he is too old to be considered as such - in the sporting arena, I hasten to add.

I truly hate to quote Arsene Wenger, but he recently said
"At 18 years it is too late to improve players. We decided to go down to 16. Then 14. Now in France they go to 12. Technically, at 13 the basics are done."
I don't think that's far off the truth, but on the other hand, you have Michael Hussey making a Test debut at the age of 30, in an Australian team that has thrived on the contribution of the 30-somethings during it's period of dominance.

That's all very well at the Test level though - where do you go when you're trying to blood a young cricketer into the world of club cricket? I'm operating in a world filled with has-been and never-was adult cricketers who are clinging on to some last vestiges of unrealisable dreams. And so you hear the challenge of promoting youth addressed with comments like "let's make sure that every team has at least one U-23 player in it." Just to clarify, we're talking about regional lower division club cricket in the USA.

I'm firmly of the opinion that we need to be looking at the 13-15 year olds with the talent and hunger, and finding ways to blood them such that by the time they are 17 or 18, they are up at the top of the local game. Indeed, at that age, I would hope that they are knocking on the national senior team door. That is the way forward if we really want to develop any semblance of this game in this country.

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