Players and their families enjoying the social aspect of the league.
Lullington Park Pub League - getting more people playing cricket
Lullington Park Cricket Club have devised a new format of the game to help get more people in their local community playing. The South Derbyshire based club have seen great success with the pub league which promises to grow and grow.
Joe Eaton from Lullington Park CC who has spearheaded the new league, explains how it all came about.
How did the league start and how does it work?
"A couple of guys sat in the pub were discussing how we have lost players over the last few years and had to drop our 4th team. We were looking at ways of attracting people to the club both as players and supporters. Not only younger players but those of an older age profile. We also wanted to look at how we can introduce fun back into the club and source income from an external source as we always seem to discuss at the AGM's our dependency on the same people.
I set up the pub league in 2016 which is made up of four teams; three local pubs and a team comprising local farmers."
"Teams consist of three senior cricket club players, two junior club players and six 'pub' players (non-cricketers). Each team has a squad of eight senior players and five junior players (U13's-19's) to pick from for each game.
The aim is to try and make each team as evenly balanced ability wise as possible from the clubs point of view; the squad might be made up of three 1st team players, three second team players and two 3rd team players. We limit each club player to three games so everyone gets a game and the opportunity to play with other club members they might not usually play with on a Saturday, encouraging a club bond.
Each team plays the others twice in a league. The games are a shorter format just being 16 overs. No extra balls are bowled for wides or no balls; three runs are awarded for each extra and free hits bowled following any no balls. Three fielders must be in a 30 yard circle at all times.
- Bowling - Ten overs must be bowled by pub players, every pub player must bowl with a maximum of two overs each. The other six overs are bowled by club players with the same rules.
- Batting - Batsmen must retire when they score 25 runs (they don't come back in) and only two club players can bat in the top four.
- Drinks - We have an 8 over interval where a jug of larger is bought out and orange squash for the juniors of course!
The pubs have been kind enough to provide playing kit with their own branding and sponsorship, one pub went the extra step and provided a supporters range for their regulars and staff which were very bright fluorescent colours."
Players enjoying some time out together watching from the sidelines.
Why has the pub league has been popular with people who don’t normally play cricket?
A game built on enjoyment and participation
"You can't walk into pubs (not necessarily the participating ones) without having a cricket discussion about who is playing and the latest result or upcoming fixture. The league tables are pinned up on the pub walls and there has been a great buzz.
I think because the whole concept was built with a view to focus on enjoyment and participation, it's a relaxed competition with no pressure. Some of the guys were nervous at first as they hadn't played since PE lessons at school 20-30 years ago. Once they get into it and realise it's just some fun and everyone else is in a similar position as themselves they start to relax and have fun."
Playing at the right level for everyone
"The cricket club lads have embraced the spirit also, very competitive against other club players but also mindful and respectful not to embarrass the non-cricketers.
Pub players understand they might have to bowl at 1st team players and not expect to get them out. When they do, for example, our Derbyshire premier league player of the year was caught by a pub player off the bowling of a pub player. They went berserk celebrating but made sure to shake the hand of the player as he walked off and bought him a beer after the game.
They enjoy it as it's an easy way back into cricket, it encourages them to be active whilst rewarding themselves after with a refreshment.
People leave their egos at the door and do their best. That and the couple of beers with their mates from the pub before the game might help relax their pre-match nerves."
Team photo on game day.
Why has the traditional format of cricket not been able to engage with this group of people before?
Shorter format fits busy lives
"Having spoken to a few of the guys about whether they would like to play cricket for Lullington at the weekends, they say they'd love to but it's such a long day. Saturday lower league cricket doesn't need to be 46 overs a side starting at 1:30pm and finishing gone 8:00pm. They'd be more interested in a 30-40 over game starting at 12 so it doesn't take up the whole day.
We have had a few guys play for the club already since the start of the pub tournament, guys that haven't played on a real cricket pitch before the start of the competition.
The pub guys surprised me by actually wanting to net and train. These session were a much more relaxed training session than what I'm used to, they share kit, bat for 10 mins each then have a quick break, someone might fetch a beer and then swap over and it's the next persons turn.
They really appreciated and listened to any coaching people provided and you could see a huge change and development in their game. I was with my team one night and they were still in the nets then fielding at 9:45pm, it's like going to the pub for them as they usually would but being at the cricket club having a run around first then a beer after.
We had live music after the games and a jug bought for every team to share amongst their squad.
The competition has been ran as a pub league hosted by the cricket club in order to give the pubs ownership and avoid the feeling of them being the outsiders. One of the pubs has even donated a trophy for the competition."
Watching the game from the clubhouse.
How has the pub league helped your club?
Connecting the club with their community
"It's helped with the exposure for the club; the parents that have been playing in the competition are now bringing their kids to junior training and are also coming to watch games at weekend. Its introduced new people to the club, not only players but trades and business for sponsorship etc.
- New players - some are keen to start playing again, some have already started this year, other have asked for winter training sessions with the view of playing next year.
- Revenue - we ran a raffle, BBQ and saw a massive increase in bar takings and commercial benefits like sponsorship. Club branding exposure in pubs has been achieved also.
- Marketing - players have been posting news, pictures and reports of games to social media. Pubs and pub players have been commenting, liking and sharing these posts, widening the reach and brand of the club."
What would you say to other sports clubs who are trying to get more people playing their sport?
Keep it fun and relevant
"Understand the people you are aiming at and their needs and wants, tailoring to their desires, not what you think they want.
We made countless changes to the competition to facilitate to the guys wants, often with people saying "you're making this up as you go along" and I would always answer "yes!" As a brand new concept I wasn't allowing my pride or ego to get in the way of what others wanted to make it a success."
What are the clubs plans for the pub league?
Team photo on game day.
"We are going to discuss and engage with pubs to see what they want. I know the farmers want to start the tournament earlier due to harvest.
I've had interest from other pubs and the local rugby club to enter a side for next year."
Find out how to get involved
To find your local club, visit the Derbyshire Cricket Board website.
Find out what support is available for your club
Visit the 'Club and group support' section of the Derbyshire Sport website for details of Club Matters, Clubmark, funding and and volunteering guidance.