CRICKET Wales has appointed a specialist researcher in a unique new role to provide vital insights which could help shape the future of the sport.
Estyn Jones has joined Cricket Wales as insight and innovation officer, and is working to discover why some players quit the sport and what can be done to address the issue.
“Almost all sports suffer a drop-off in participation at a certain age,” said Estyn,. “In cricket, we see people tending to leave from around 14-25, and I’m looking at why that happens, and what we might do to keep those people playing.
“We have found that for some young players, it can be intimidating moving into senior cricket; and, unless, they are among the most talented, who feel they have a potential career in the sport, they may find they no longer enjoy playing.”
His role is believed to be unique in Welsh sport and is unusual in the wider UK context.
One of Estyn’s priorities is to identify the reasons for the drop-off and potential ways to keep people in the sport. This may include new formats of the game, or playing at certain times.
A graduate of product design at the University of the West of England, Estyn – originally from Bala in Gwynedd - is working on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project through Cardiff Metropolitan University, funded by Sport Wales and the Welsh Government.
As well as analysing thousands of survey responses and conducting individual interviews with players and others in the sport, Estyn will be interviewing lapsed players to identify exactly what turns people away from the sport at certain ages.
Another aspect of his work is to help rejuvenate the Cricket Wales club affiliation programme. “There are around 230 affiliated clubs in Wales, but many aren’t even aware of the benefits they are getting from Cricket Wales,” Estyn explained.
Cricket Wales chief executive Peter Hybart commented: “Cricket remains a hugely popular sport throughout Wales for boys and girls, men and women, and in a wide range of formats, but in common with all sports, we face challenges.
“Since appointing Estyn, we are now gaining vital insights which will leave us well-placed to get more people involved and retained within cricket, and having a fun, enjoyable experience in the sport.”
Cricket Wales is the national governing body for junior and recreational senior cricket in Wales. It works closely with Glamorgan County Cricket Club, which governs the men’s professional game. For information visit www.cricketwales.org.uk