Take the Minister for Sport and Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, add World Cup hero Grant Elliott; BLACKCAPS, WHITE FERNS and a mixture of Wellington Firebirds and Blaze players - and what do you get?
The official launch of New Zealand Cricket’s revolutionary new junior programme called “AGE & STAGE”, set to be rolled out around the country following a live demonstration on Wellington’s Parliament Lawn today.
The new AGE & STAGE format makes the game more accessible for kids by tailoring it to their size – that is: employing shorter pitch lengths, fewer player numbers, shortened boundaries, and appropriately-sized bats, balls, and protective equipment.
Think faster games; more running, more balls in play, more boundaries, fewer wides, and an overall game experience more akin to what children see from their heroes on television and at big match venues.
NZC chief executive David White said the initiative was to be introduced throughout the country this summer following trials last year, and after a similarly-themed roll-out in Australia showed dramatically-improved outcomes for the participants.
“This programme helps make cricket more accessible for children and time-poor parents and caregivers,” said Mr White.
“It’s faster, more dynamic and exciting and, as a result, more fun, which is the bottom line for any kid wanting to play cricket.”
He said NZC’s guiding vision was to maintain cricket as a game for all New Zealanders, and that the AGE & STAGE programme would provide a consistent, coordinated and nationally-aligned approach to kids’ cricket.
NZC GM Community, Adrian Dale, said there was an urgent need to change the game to keep pace with a changing New Zealand, and that the new format and design would simply make the game more attractive for junior participants.
“The days of a one-size-fits-all approach to cricket are long gone,” said Mr Dale.
“This programme ensures children are fully involved and provides much more flexibility about where they play cricket, when they play cricket and, most importantly, how they play cricket.
“Ensuring the game is appropriately designed for the age and stage level of the participants is crucial in terms of creating a welcoming, enjoyable and action-packed environment.”