My life has revolved around cricket for a number of years now and I’ve recently been reflecting on how grateful I am that it has.
It started in the backyard at a very young age, I remember taping up tennis balls and tugging at my uncle's shirt to start the Christmas Day match from the age of about 6 or 7. I was actually too scared to start club cricket until I was 11 because of the hard ball but never looked back once I did.
My involvement has become deeper over the years. I had a decade playing premier first grade in Brisbane and putting everything I had into playing for QLD. My whole professional career to date has been in cricket on some level - coaching, working in game development for QLD Cricket and now running and growing the Australian Cricket Institute.
During my reflection, a few things stood out that has had a big impact on my love for the game. If you’re a parent reading this, here are 4 reasons why you should encourage your child to play or stay in cricket.
Without a doubt, the number one way that cricket has positively influenced my life is the people.
I’ve made friends for life and have developed so many amazing relationships that have shaped my life through cricket.
I’ve had coaches and mentors that have instilled beliefs, habits and values in me that have ve made me very confident in who I am.
I’ve made a professional network in cricket that makes me feel like no matter what my situation, I’ll be able to get by.
I’ve got a social network in cricket that makes me feel happy, excited and provides a lot of fun.
Cricket has made me feel emotionally, socially and financially safe.
Out of all the sports I’ve been involved in (granted, none on the level I am with cricket), I can honestly say that cricket is loaded with genuinely good people.
My first cricket trip was to a QJC U/12 Development Carnival representing the Sunshine Coast in 1997 and it hasn’t stopped since.
I was really shy as a young lad and remember being a bit apprehensive before the carnival but immediately loving it once we got there. Surrounded by 10 other ‘cricket nuffies’ and a couple of coaches I looked up to and talking cricket the whole time.
I love travelling for cricket in any capacity - to compete, work or play.
Since that first trip, I’ve travelled to basically every part of Australia you can think of to either play or work as well as a handful of overseas counties including Sri Lanka, West Indies, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, India and Singapore (plus 10+ European countries while playing in England).
The great thing about cricket is, you don’t have to play for your country to do that.
Being such a global game and community, it opens up so many opportunities to watch cricket, play cricket or work in cricket around the world.
Those are two external factors I’m forever grateful for, the next two great internal characteristics I believe I’ve developed as a result of my involvement in cricket.
The simple act of waiting for a bat or bowl as a youngster has a tremendous impact on your ability to be patient.
Of course, we all want to be involved in whatever we’re doing (cricket or not) and want our turn NOW, but that’s simply not how life works.
There are so many scenarios in cricket that force you to learn patience (or move on to another sport)…
- Waiting to bat while your teammate scores a hundred.
- Not getting a bowl while someone else is bowling the spell of their life.
- A long hot day in the field.
- Putting consistent performances on the board and not getting selected in the next grade up.
- Learning that if you don’t perform you may have to wait for another opportunity.
- Waiting around during rain delays.
This is something I don’t want to see phased out of the game but I think it has to an extent in more recent years.
Rule changes in junior cricket and the attitude of ‘everyone should get a go’, which I can understand the reasoning behind.
But I still think there’s something to be said for allowing the game to instil patience in players.
Patience is a skill that will have enormous ROI (return on investment) in every area of a players life, now and into the future.
Cricket is a harsh game.
If you’re not doing well individually, it can feel like there are 100 better uses of your time.
You get out for a duck and you’re sitting under a porch all day.
You get whacked for 20 off 2 overs and you’re standing out in the sun all day.
Getting dropped, dropping a catch, getting out to lose a game, bowling the last over to lose a game.
It can be rough!
I know it’s not limited to cricket, but I think cricket really highlights tough times because of the lack of opportunity. Most other sports give you an opportunity to make amends pretty quickly.
There’s a reason a lot of people insist cricket is a high percentage ‘mental game’.
Players that work through the tough times come out the other end with a strong sense of resilience which they can apply to other areas of their life (I certainly have anyway).
So there you have it!
Four pretty good reasons to encourage your child to start, or continue playing cricket and I hope they can look back, like me, in 10 or 15 years with the same sense of gratitude.
Our goal at the ACI is to provide players with experiences that foster all of the above (and we've got a heap coming up over summer). >> Check Out What's Coming Up at the ACI
I’d love to hear your experience and any other reasons you’d add to the list!
Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co-Founder and Head Coach