Cricket is an immensely popular game. About a decade and a half ago, only a selected few could make a living out of it. With the advent of T20 leagues, such as IPL and BBL, more players across the globe can dream of making more than a decent living despite never getting to play in the national team! Even so, many parents wonder what would be a good age for the kid to begin the journey in cricket? Let’s discuss the various aspects of it.
The best age to start playing cricket is ideally around the age of 5-7 years. It is recommended to introduce your kids to Cricket as early as possible! If interest is spotted, professional coaching can be started at the age of 8-10 years to hone the natural abilities and inclination to specific skills.
A lot depends on when a does a player starts playing cricket. As a parent, you may be worried about what would be a good age for your kid to start playing cricket?
Some of the questions that you may feel yourself asking are – Is this too early or too late? How much does physical training matter as compared to the skills? What if the kid is not really into cricket? And much more along the same lines. So, let’s go a bit into detail about each of these topics.
What Age Should You Start Playing Cricket?
Many times parents consult the coaches about when should they start sending their kids to professional coaching at the clubs without even understanding whether the kid has a natural liking to the game. Ideally, understanding the keenness of your kids should be the first thing that you, as a parent, should ascertain even before beginning a journey into Cricket!
Here’s what we recommend as tell-tale signs for you to follow, and what you should do during those particular periods of your child’s growth.
Early years (Under 5 years of Age)
This early on, it is usually not advisable for your kids to take professional cricket.
Thus, it is good to keep things very simple at a very early age. All you need is a piece of wood and plastic or rubber ball to throw to your kid as long as they desires. That’s how you start getting the kid interested in cricket.
One important thing to note here is that you can do the above activity as often as you can, however, do not make it a task to be completed. Your child should ask for playing cricket rather than the other way round!
Playing Cricket Between Age 5 to 7 years
Around the age of 5 years, you should start teaching the basics of the game without taking the fun out of it. It’s okay if the child is trying to pull every ball on the leg side. Remember, the goal is to ignite curiosity in a children’s mind so that they start seeking the answers themselves.
Around the age of 7, children should know basic cricketing skills and basic rules like wickets, runs, fielding, etc.
Please do not expect them to understand LBW yet. These are the years when a kid will show signs of affinity towards the game and might also show the glimpses of most liked skills. Don’t worry if that is not the case. It’s a good sign as long as the child playing the game regularly and enjoying it wholeheartedly.
Playing Cricket at the Age of 8 to 12 years
The age group of 8 to 12 years is an ideal age when you, as a parent, should think about providing your child professional coaching by joining a cricket training institute or a cricket club.
During this age group, children start getting used to the movements and actions required to do the basic activities in cricket. Although, they are not fully into their element yet as a cricketer, but this is a good age to develop a child’s interests further and basic skill levels needed in cricket.
Did You Know?
India’s Batting Legend Sachin Tendulkar started training under coach Ramakant Achrekar Sir at the age of 11!
There is another reason you should start professional training before the age of 12 because in the early years leveling up to match the skills of other players in your age group is slightly easier. However, as children get into mid and late teens, catching up to the skill of other players in a similar age group becomes harder and harder.
This is also the age where players should be taught about the importance of fitness. It’s a bit tricky though as around the age of 12 most children are incredibly fit naturally. It could be difficult for them to understand what the fuss is all about. Be innovative.
Playing Cricket in the Teen Ages (12 to 18 years)
The teen age is the age where a player made. This is also the age where a player gets to represent a club, state, or county in different age-group competitions.
The under-15, under-17, and most importantly, under 19 competitions are where players get opportunities to showcase their talent and noticed by officials responsible for the selection. The ICC under-19 World cup is telecasted across the globe live. Imagine the platform it provides to the players early in their careers.
Did You Know?
Sachin Tendulkar played for India in Test Cricket before he turned 17.
Around the age of around 13 to 14, players start to develop proper bowling actions and batting techniques. They start putting their brain and mind into the game and start understanding the role of temperament. They begin developing a rhythm in everything they do on the field.
By the time children turn 16, they are aware of their technique, their weak and strong areas, their scoring areas as a batsman, or the best bowling areas as a bowler. They also begin developing strength.
Around the age of 17 to 19, it’s all about the amount of effort your kids have already put in over the last several few years. The tournaments that your kid gets to participate in can play a key role in deciding the future of your kid in cricket. Getting noticed at this age increases the chances to be inducted into national A teams and eventually in the national team.
During this age group, children’s body also starts to develop and becomes capable of taking a lot of pressure without breaking down frequently. However, good fitness and a balanced nutritional regime is a must for that. Many players make their first-class debuts during these years.
Can You Start Playing Cricket at the age of 18 or above?
If you have not yet started playing cricket even at the age of about 17 or 18, it still is not too late! If you have not made it to a substantial level in cricket, it doesn’t mean that you will never make it!
One must remember, if you start playing cricket late, it only means the window of opportunities to play at the international level keeps decreasing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t play professional cricket.
It is interesting to note that Zaheer Khan is known to have first played with the leather cricket ball at the age of 17! Yet, he made his international debut at the age of 22 years!
Remember, Michael Hussey made his national debut at the age of 28 after scoring more than 15000 runs in first-class cricket. The key is consistency and temperament.
Another inspiration would be the Indian Women’s cricket team’s all-rounder Shikha Pandey, who started her professional career at the age of 19. She made her international debut for India at the age of 25!
One should not get bogged down even if you have started late. Just ensure that you put in extra effort and work hard with determination, and you surely will make it to the top sooner or later!
How Do You know When a Player is Ready for Serious Training?
Some signs can show whether a kid is serious and interested enough to get to begin professional training. Such kids usually find excuses to play cricket. Their day is planned around playing cricket. They constantly try to learn and ask a lot of questions while playing or watching a live cricket match. They have their cricketing idols and want to know everything about them.
Such kids can be seen shadow practicing in the hallways or in front of the mirror. Whatever it is that they are doing, they are always found with a cricket ball their hand. They just live and breathe cricket without being aware of it.
Should Kids be Put into Full-fledged Training Right at the Start?
Everybody wants their kid to be a Sachin, Dravid, or a Kohli someday. By the time he was 17, Sachin was already playing for India. It would unrealistic to expect this from every kid. Also, these were natural players. They had their style. They honed it along the way. Most importantly they understood their game. It is the key.
Players like MS Dhoni, Steven Smith, Virender Sehwag would not have happened if they were textbook coached from the very beginning. We should let the children take the time to know the game and understand their own.
Every kid sees the game differently. They should be allowed space and time to view it their way. That is how kids develop a special connection with a game that lasts a lifetime compared to those who see the game through the parents’ or coach’s eyes.
A team is made of characters not just players. We should allow kids to develop their character. These original players will someday be the missing piece of the puzzle i.e a professional cricket team.
A lot has been said about early starters in the sports arena. It is also tempting to put kids through the grinding early so that they make it earlier and better than everyone else. While it may be true in certain cases, the method of it should be to bring the game out of kids rather than imposing the game on the kids.
I hope this article would have given you a perspective on how to approach a child’s career and things to do when the child reaches a certain age.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog is to remember that all kids are different and some became mature in the game later than the others. That’s fine. There will be signs. Just react to those signs. The kid will do just fine.
Featured Image Credit – Darley on Flickr