Quite a while ago I was going to write a paper on a topic to do with town planning. I am passionate about town planning as I am a town planner by trade. While my current profession as a Sustainability Officer keeps my finger on the pulse to some extent, I do miss it. So I thought with this blog entry I might share this discussion with you. This is a condensed version but I might find myself writing that paper for a journal yet.
The Death of Backyard Cricket
Many children of my generation and before have grown up in Australia with the tradition of playing backyard cricket. The quarter acre house allotment was not a rare sight and the house was configured in such a way that there was ample room for a pitch. If you were really lucky the groundsman (Dad in most cases) would mow in a pitch to make it look authentic.
Children were encouraged to play outdoors. In fact we loved playing outdoors. Weekends and holidays were a bonus as half the neighbourhood would turn out and convert the quiet suburban backyard into something resembling a Boxing Day test match at the MCG. Some would take it quite seriously as well.
What concerns me as a town planner is the disappearance of these quarter acre blocks and therefore the death of a great Aussie tradition… Backyard cricket. Today it is becoming the norm for a small 300 square metre block with a 3-4 bedroom house tucked on it and a small courtyard style garden. To put it bluntly a yard not even big enough to swing a cat around, little lone swinging a cricket bat.
I would be the first to understand that the draw of gaming, social media and the Internet in general is enough to lure any teenager away from the great outdoors. I have a son who is almost 15 years of age. However one must wonder if there is a relationship between these shrinking backyards and childhood obesity.
We have moved to a society with smaller allotments, parents both working full-time hours with little time to spare to take kids to parks and the fear of letting our precious children out on their own. It’s sad but it’s true. While I understand that these smaller allotments do suit our hectic lifestyles what price are we ultimately going to pay with our children’s health?
It’s easy to say get them involved with a sports club but the cost is not cheap. My son plays both cricket and football for a club and also plays indoor cricket. I can tell you from first hand experience it is not cheap.
Another issue that has an impact on the game of backyard cricket is our society tends to live in our little sheltered cocoons. How many times in the last month have you spoken to your neighbours? I suspect many haven’t. It seems gone are the days where children would play freely between houses, especially on a weekend or school holidays. Are we now too protective of our children to let them out the front door?
So unfortunately it appears the death knell is ringing for the game of backyard cricket. Sad but true. Will this even have an impact on the future of cricket for this country? Well if the current state of our cricket team is to go by perhaps it might or it certainly won’t help.