The ECB has issued guidance covering the selection and participation of young players in open age group cricket. This is to help clubs decide when to select young players in open age group cricket and how best to help their cricketing development when they play within open age groups. The guidance applies to boys and girls. The ECB keeps these guidelines under review. Put simply, the overall aim is to allow young players to develop in safety, but not to spoil the game for adults. For the avoidance of doubt, this guidance applies to training and nets as well as games, for men's and women's cricket, and for the indoor game.
The guidance is as follows:
- Making the step up from junior to open age group cricket is a significant event in any player’s cricket experience. Ensure the player’s safety, personal development needs and overall cricket experience are considered.
- Clubs, squad coaches and managers must take into account the requirements on age detailed in this guidance.
- Each case is to be determined on an individual basis, depending on the player’s ability and stage of cognitive and emotional maturity to take part in open age cricket. The minimum age guidance provided below must be followed.
- Juniors should be involved in all aspects of the game wherever possible i.e. socialising, team talks, practice, decision making and so on, so they feel part of the team.
- Children will often feel more comfortable and able to perform if they have a family member or friend also playing in the side.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The captain should inform the Umpires of under 18s in the side.
ECB Helmets, Fast Bowling Directives and Fielding Regulations should always be adhered to for junior players in Open age group cricket.
The minimum age for Open Age cricket is the U13 age group. Players must be in Year 8, and 12 years old on the 1st September of the preceding year.
This applies to all club and district players who are not in a county or area squad (or region in Wales). Written parental consent is required.
Exceptionally, players who are selected in a County U12 squad (or Regional squad in Wales) in spring for a summer squad - are also eligible to play Open age cricket.*
Please be aware that at under 12 level the ECB recommends that the focus is on participation rather than Talent I.D, and many counties no longer run under 12 squads. Inclusion of ANY Under 12s in Open Age teams should be an exception and not an expectation.
*providing they are at least 11 years old, are in School Year 7 on 1st September in the year preceding the season, and have written parental consent to play.
It is essential clubs and coaches recognise the ‘duty of care’ obligations they have towards young players in Open Age cricket. 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 guidelines note the need for clubs and leagues to recognise the positive experience young players should have in open age cricket. Clubs should 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.