'We must get more playing'
WAYNE Bichel got sick of hearing people complain, so he decided to do something about it.
Bichel is the new Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association junior co-ordinator.
His main goal is to increase junior participation.
Bichel's two sons play for Central Districts, so he has had plenty of exposure to the complaints that are bandied about every weekend about the state of the junior game by players, parents and officials.
"In the last couple of years I've had a lot to do with coaching at Centrals and junior representative sides," Bichel said.
"There were a number of things people were complaining about.
"My response was 'Hang on.
"You can do something about it if you're not complaining.
"It's not necessarily bad things that are going on'."
Being the type to practise what he preaches, Bichel put his hand up for the junior co-ordinator's job.
"The numbers just look bad on cricket," he said.
"It is now down to the 16th-ranked participation sport in Australia," he said.
"We've just got to get kids playing cricket."
For that, Bichel is targeting kids 10 and under.
"Numbers have been good in the 10s and 12s because that's what we've been putting emphasis on," he said.
"Now we've got to get to entry level, before the 10s."
Bichel sees the early involvement of parents, and more coaching for those who need it most, as the keys.
He believes the formula at Centrals can be used across the board in Ipswich.
"The standard of any junior team is like a bell curve," Bichel said.
"You've got a few really good kids, most of them in the middle and the ones who need work."
For the last category, extra coaching is provided to get them up to speed.
Bichel is also looking at what others are doing to increase the popularity of cricket.
In Mackay they are about to go to all night-time games, while alternating between indoor and outdoor games in the same competition.
Bichel is also keen to explore the use of roll-out pitches that can turn any park or football ground into a cricket oval.
He has a tough job ahead of him, with schools increasingly putting cricket in the too hard basket.
"Ipswich now only has four schools playing cricket on a Friday afternoon," he said.
"We have to strengthen the link between schools and clubs."