Former Australian cricketer Dean Jones (right) wants grassroots to be protected from massive cuts to finances.
Former Australian cricketer Dean Jones (right) wants grassroots to be protected from massive cuts to finances.

Jones: Why grassroots cricket must be protected

Dean Jones has called for a national review of grade cricket as Australia confronts the perilous task of cutting a financial swath through the game's precious grassroots.

Former Test star Jones says it is imperative for Australia to protect the Premier Cricket club scene and he would even prefer to see money go to an experienced grade captain or coach rather than a fringe first-class player to beef-up the most significant, yet often neglected, part of cricket's production line.

Cash-strapped Cricket Australia faces a painful clash of priorities as it attempts to make cuts through all areas of the game, including the grassroots, which national coach Justin Langer has claimed has become even more important as cricket wades through the financial debris left by COVID-19.

 

Dean Jones wants grade and Premier cricket to be protected to massive cuts.
Dean Jones wants grade and Premier cricket to be protected to massive cuts.

 

The under-19s may be the sole national junior carnival to survive, with the Sheffield Shield likely to be pruned to eight games and the Big Bash in danger of being shortened.

Jones would not mourn the loss of the under-age carnivals because he believes grade or Premier Cricket should be a greater priority and has urged for big-name Shield and Test players to be sent back to it far more regularly than they have been due to cluttered scheduling.

"I have always said that if a player makes a century for say Queensland under-17s, I would prefer him to make it at grade level against men for his Premier Club," Jones said.

"Grassroots is more important than ever now. It has to be nurtured. It worries me that we could take the finger off the living pulse of the game.

"Instead of having extra Shield players, I would like to see payments for a club coach and captain and even second, third and fourth-grade captains so you keep the big names back at the clubs.

"They need a national review to find out what grade cricketers really want. I would say it would show they want a good track, decent facilities and don't want to travel far to play. But we need the elite boys, the big boys to come back and play for their clubs.

"I remember as a teenager playing against (West Indian great) Garry Sobers when he played for North Melbourne (in 1979).

"We need to have our big-name players playing a few games a year. Some of them would not know where their grade ground is."

 

 

Originally published as Why grassroots cricket must be protected: Jones

Jones says grassroots is more important than ever.
Jones says grassroots is more important than ever.

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