This Directive covers the selection and participation of young (aged under 18) players in open age cricket. It is designed to help clubs to decide when to select young players in open age cricket and how best to help their cricketing development when they play within open age groups. It applies to boys and girls equally. Age groups are based on the age of the player at midnight on 31st August in the year preceding the current season.
All clubs must recognise that they have a duty of care towards all young players who are representing the club. This duty of care also extends to Leagues that allow the participation of young players in open age groups in their League. The duty of care should be interpreted in two ways:
Not to place a young player in a position that involves an unreasonable risk to that young player, taking account of the circumstances of the match and the relative skills of the player.
Not to create a situation that places members of the opposing side in a position whereby they cannot play cricket as they would normally do against adult players. In addition the following specific requirements apply to young players in open age cricket.
1. Making the step up from junior to open age cricket is a significant event in any player's cricket experience. Ensure that the player's safety, personal development needs and overall cricket experience are considered.
2. There is no definitive age at which they should be introduced to open age cricket but determine each case on an individual basis dependent on their ability and stage of cognitive and emotional maturity to take part at this level, taking into account the requirement that no Junior Cricketers in the under 12 age group can play in open age cricket except players who are selected in a County U12 squad in spring for a summer squad or in another squad deemed by the ECB performance managers to be a standard above ‘District Level’ for that season are eligible to play Open Age Cricket. This is providing they are at least 11 yrs old and in school year 7 on 1st September in the year preceding the season and have written parental consent to play. In allowing these players to play in Open Age Cricket, it is essential that Clubs and Coaches recognise the ‘Duty of Care’ obligations towards these young players..
3. ECB Fast Bowling Directives and Fielding Regulations should always be adhered to for junior players in open age cricket. All young players who have not reached their 18th birthday must wear a helmet with a faceguard when batting and either a helmet or BS face protector when standing up to the stumps when keeping wicket. A young player acting as a runner must also wear a helmet even if the player they are running for is not doing so.
4. Any player in the Under 13 age group must have explicit written consent from a parent or guardian before participating in open age cricket. Clubs must ensure that their player registration procedures ensure that consent is obtained.
5. Provide an opportunity for players to show their talents in an appropriate way.
Children who are just used as fielders will not fully experience the game.
6. Be supportive at all times for all forms of effort even when children are not successful. Try and put them in situations where they will experience some success (however small) and ensure plenty of praise and encouragement.
7. Try and involve them in all aspects of the game wherever possible i.e. socializing, team talks, practice, decision making etc. so that they feel part of the team.
8. Children will often feel more comfortable and able to perform if they have a family member or friend also playing in the side.
9. Remember, children's early experiences will remain with them always and will often determine whether they want to remain playing the game or give up and do something else!
10. A parent, guardian or other identified responsible adult must be present whenever a player in the Under 13 age group plays open age cricket. This could include the captain or other identified adult player taking responsibility for the young player.