USA Cricket launched a National Entry Level Program on March 20, 2018. According to the USA Cricket media release, the program resources were created in conjunction with Cricket Australia with support by the USA Cricket Participation Advisory Group. Structurally, the program is similar to MILO in2CRICKET, a pathway program for 5-8 year olds in Australia, which is credited with helping cricket reclaim the #1 spot in 2015 after years of declining participation numbers.
By Venu Palaparthi
USA Cricket launched a National Entry Level Program on March 20, 2018. According to a media release by USA Cricket, the program resources were created in conjunction with Cricket Australia with support by the USA Cricket Participation Advisory Group. Structurally, the program is similar to MILO in2CRICKET, a pathway program for 5-8 year olds in Australia, which is credited with helping cricket reclaim the #1 spot in 2015 following years of declining participation numbers. MILO in2CRICKET program is supplemented in Australia by the MILO T20 Blast for 7-12 year olds.
The main benefit that a program such as the Rookie League provides is that it standardizes skills, fun activities, and terminology that kids are exposed to as they enter the sport. At its core, the Rookie League is a resource repository providing downloadable PDFs, YouTube videos and diagrams encompassing 36 activities covering the disciplines of batting, bowling, fielding, warm up and modified games. These were all made available on the USACricket.org website yesterday.
Success of the Rookie League program depends on the delivery of these skills and activities by an army of committed volunteers. At the present time, delivery is being addressed primarily by voluntary programs such as PSAL, private-public initiatives such as DreamCricket Academy and Edison Township Recreation Department, organized efforts by programs such as USYCA and Bowie Cricket and through club and league initiatives. Of course, the academies and programs across the country have evolved their own methodologies for delivery.
In the media release, USA Cricket did not offer much commentary on the delivery aspect of the Rookie League other than stating that it expected leagues, clubs, academies and schools to use these resources to start or improve entry level cricket programs with consistent drills and strategies that makes cricket fun for kids while also teaching basic skills to create a solid cricket foundation. But a statement in social media that accompanied the launch spoke of "getting more cricket bats and balls in the hands of more young Americans," which on the face of it is both promising and necessary. This is ultimately a major challenge that remains to be addressed. [Coincidentally, the Rookie League launch was announced the same week as the National Youth Cricket Day, which falls on March 24. The day marks the initial donation of ten cricket kits to USYCA by DreamCricket in 2010.]
ICC Americas’ USA Project Manager Eric Parthen said the Rookie League will strengthen the cricket pathway and attract more players and fans to cricket. “We see this as a huge part of our strategy to grow cricket in the United States at the grassroots level,” said Parthen. “The Rookie League is the culmination of 18 months of work creating the uniquely American content and we hope this will pique the interest of sports fans and generate more awareness and further cricket engagement.”
Matthew Betsey, Head of Coaching – Cricket Australia, said: “As a friend of cricket in the USA, and a partner in the development of the Rookie League initiative, Cricket Australia would like to congratulate USA Cricket on the development of a world class program for coaches and teachers to deliver a fantastic cricket experience for young Americans. This is a significant milestone for the future of Cricket in the USA and across the globe."
Jamie Lloyd, a member of the Participation Advisory Group who were instrumental in the creation of the Rookie League, said: “This is significant step in exposing cricket to the mainstream which is unprecedented in cricket in the United States. I am proud to be involved with this project and cultivate the next generation of American cricketers.”
Whether you’re a highly-qualified cricket coach, a school educator, a community volunteer, or a mom or dad wanting to help your child on their way, this is the perfect place to start your cricketing journey.
More information on the league can be found here: https://www.usacricket.org/rookie-league/
Here is an info graphic for those unfamiliar with the Australian cricket pathway. Technically, the Rookie League is the Foundation Level where skills are imparted.
Info graphic courtesy: Cricket Australia
Source: USA Cricket Media Release