What are the new recommended Junior Formats?
The new Junior Formats are the ECB’s recommendations for junior boys’ and girls’ cricket in England and Wales from Under 9 to Under 17 age groups in terms of number of players, pitch lengths, maximum boundary size, game length and use of hard/soft balls.
Why have the new Junior Formats been created?
The Junior Formats will give children a great experience of playing cricket, allowing them to develop skills in an ‘age and stage’ appropriate environment (i.e. which takes into account their age and stage of development).
As participation in team sports continues to decline, a number of National Governing Bodies of Sport, including the ECB, have looked to modify their sports to make them more attractive and appealing to audiences, current and future, particularly children and young people.
Through a ‘participation’ leading into ‘performance’ lens, the ECB has announced new recommended formats for all Junior Cricket in England and Wales.
The recommendations are based on insight and build upon the findings of a three year ECB and Loughborough University PhD research project, findings by other cricketing nations, most notably Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket, and feedback from Counties, Clubs, Schools and Junior Leagues.
For example, key findings from the ECB and Loughborough University study on the benefits of shorter pitches in junior cricket were:
- More accurate bowling, including a 15% increase in playable deliveries
- Better technique
- Improved bowling experience
- 56% increase in shots played straight and on the offside
- Batters were able to score runs in more areas
- 39% increase in running between the wickets
Are the new Junior Formats compulsory?
No. The ECB believes that the recommended Junior Formats are a necessary and appropriate adjustment to optimise enjoyment and skill development for young cricketers. It is therefore committed to working with Counties, Junior Leagues, Schools and other organisers of Junior cricket in England and Wales to implement the new Junior Formats. However, the new Junior Formats are recommended by the ECB and not mandatory.
How will the new Junior Formats in relation to pitch length impact on skill development?
- On appropriate length pitches, the majority of bowlers can deliver the ball more often with a natural bowling action. As a result, bowlers will find it easier to deliver more balls safely and in a good area (i.e. where the batter has an opportunity to score runs and/or where a bowler can take a wicket).
- Batters will heighten the development of their skills as the appropriate length pitches increase bat on ball opportunities, as well as runs and boundaries scored off the bat. Running between the wickets also improves due to more bat on ball opportunities.
- Appropriate length pitches result in the balls being bowled carrying to a more natural catchable height for the wicketkeepers.
- On appropriate length pitches, the increase in bat on ball opportunities will lead to more running between the wickets and a greater emphasis on fielding skills.
Age specific questions
Why is ECB recommending six players at under 9?
Fewer players in a team results in players having more contact points throughout the game. Ultimately, players will feel more involved and have a better experience. The game will take less time to complete, allowing children to concentrate throughout, the outcome being higher levels of enjoyment.
Can children play pairs cricket at under 11s?
Absolutely, children should play a mixture of pairs and standard cricket, ECB recommends:
- Under 9s soft ball - Pairs
- Under 10 and 11 soft ball – Pairs and/or Standard cricket
- Under 10 and 11 hard ball – Pairs and/or Standard cricket
When should children start playing with a hard ball?
The Junior Formats include flexibility from under 10 upwards to play soft ball and hard ball cricket (pairs and standard) for boys and girls.
Coaches should exercise their judgment to try to ensure all children are comfortable and confident when playing any given format.
The coach should also decide when a child is ready to progress to hard ball cricket.
What ‘adaptions to the game’ can be made at under 13 and under 15 level?
Adaptions to the game are encouraged in certain circumstances to give more players opportunity to develop their skills. Adaptions include:
- The ability to play 12 players, with a maximum of 11 being allowed to bat
- Playing two 20 over games rather than one 40 over game in a day
- Playing 9 a side
- Altering the batting order to give children different experiences
Separate ECB guidance on adaptations has also been provided to Counties which is specific for Girls U13 County Age Group.
How should coaches accommodate quicker bowlers?
Differences in bowlers’ size, including height, strength and power has always existed in junior cricket, regardless of length of pitch. Options available to coaches include ‘playing up’ (see below) or moving the bowler back, for instance from the popping crease to the stump crease. Coaches need to be proactive on a case by case basis.
What is ‘playing up’ and how should coaches manage it?
‘Playing up’ is when a player plays in an age group above their actual age group (i.e. an under 12 plays in the under 13 team).
Coaches, in consultation with players and parents / guardians need to assess the skill development, physical and mental readiness of the player concerned and ensure they are playing at the appropriate level.
In making a decision to ‘play up’, coaches should ensure the player continues to enjoy their cricket, the experience is positive and developmental and the player has a supportive peer network. ‘Play up’ is applicable both indoors and outdoors.
Will the new Junior Formats affect coaching?
The Junior Formats require coaches to focus on developing the skills that will stay with children and young people for life, alongside helping them to understand the most important part of the game: fun.
Research shows clearly that coaches whose priority and focus is upon development and enjoyment, not performance and winning, engage more players who develop a lifelong love of the game. The ECB Coaches Code of Conduct - Rights, Relationships and Responsibilities can be found here.
Coaching Children – What does good look like? Click here to download an image.
What progressions can coaches use to introduce appropriate length pitches indoors?
- Batters and bowlers should initially practice separately
- Batters should practice using throw downs and/or with the bowling machine on the new length pitches
- Bowlers should practice using incremental steps, for example at under 13, from 21 yards through to 19 yards separately to get accustomed to the new length pitches
- When both batters and bowlers have spent an appropriate period of time adjusting to the new pitch length, coaches should bring both groups together, starting with players of similar ability practicing against each other
Umpiring and Scoring
How do I umpire a junior match?
ECB is working on new support materials to aid those who umpire junior matches. Further information to follow before the start of the 2019 season.
Will the new Junior Formats affect umpiring junior club or County Age Group matches?
As in any other junior cricket, appointed umpires have the right and responsibility to raise duty of care issues during the match to team managers and coaches.
If this occurs, it is the responsibility of coaches to make any necessary intervention during the match in consultation with players, parents and guardians.
How do I score a junior cricket match?
ECB recommends scoring junior matches on Play-Cricket Scorer. The free digital scoring app can be downloaded here.
District / Area and County Age Group Cricket
Do the ECB recommend that the Junior Formats apply to District, Area and County Age Group cricket?
What does ‘variety of cricket’ mean for under 11 girls in talent environments?
We want girls to experience a variety of playing formats that will develop players with the skills needed at a later stage in the pathway. ECB will provide Counties with a series of recommendations at this age group that will be consistent and build towards the guidance already provided for under 13 girls County Age Groups.
Why 20 overs per innings for under 11 boys in a Talent environment?
ECB acknowledges there are, and will continue to be, different formats of the game played in under 11 boys cricket. However, playing 20 overs per innings is the format ECB recommends as the appropriate length of game for this age group to develop skills and learning.
What is the process for County Age Groups to adopt the new Junior Format recommendations in 2019?
The ECB recommends that the new Junior Formats are adopted in all county age group competitions under the jurisdiction of the ECB, as well as during winter training.
What key messages have been given to County Age Group lead coaches?
- The key priorities are to focus on the development of player’s skills and their enjoyment
- Coaches should teach players how to win, but not at all costs
- Provide regular feedback from coaches, parents and players to ECB Regional Pathway personnel as to how the recommendations are being received, both positive and negative
Are state and independent schools adopting the Junior Formats?
Yes, the ECB recommends that the Junior Formats are adopted in all cricket in Clubs and Schools (both state and independent). The English Schools Cricket Association has also adopted the new Junior Formats.
ECB National Age Group Competitions
Will ECB competition regulations be changed to adopt the new formats?
Managing pitches for Junior Cricket
How should groundsmen manage their square with multiple length pitches being used?
ECB is currently working with the Institute of Groundsmanship to publish guidance for ground staff and coaches on the preparation, marking, maintenance and management of pitches for junior cricket.
Safety and Insurance
What steps can organisers of junior cricket take to protect the safety of players playing the Junior Formats?
In short, the same safety recommendations and mandatory requirements apply under the new Junior Formats, including:
- The wearing of helmets by junior batters and wicket-keepers playing hard ball cricket is mandatory at all times - the ECB guidance on the wearing of cricket helmets (head protectors) by young players can be found here;
- Gloves, batting pads and a box are also a requirement for all batters when taking strike in hard ball cricket;
- Additional protective equipment can also be worn by batters, including thigh pad, chest pad, arm guard and elbow guard;
- The ECB Coaches’ Safety Pack (issued on Coach Development courses and available on icoachcricket) provides guidelines to promote appropriate best practice, standards and safety, both indoors and outdoors, in practice and in matches at all levels of the game.
What about insurance and the new recommended Junior Formats?
As with any cricket played, cricket clubs, Schools and Counties must ensure they have appropriate insurance cover, including in respect of all junior cricket for which they are responsible.
The ECB’s insurer has confirmed its approval of the new Junior Formats for the purposes of the insurance cover currently in place for the ECB, the ECB Coaches Association and the ECB Association of Cricket Officials. Coaches and umpires are encouraged to become members of the ECB Coaches Association and ECB Association of Cricket Officials which both provide specific insurance cover for cricket activity.
ExtraCover is the official Club Insurance Scheme of the ECB, designed solely for cricket clubs, further information can be found here.
Full members of the ECB Coaches Association receive specialist insurance, further details can be found here.
Information about the ECB Association of Cricket Officials – Insurance Scheme for Members can be found here.
If you or your organisation isn’t covered by one of the above, you must consult with your insurance provider(s) to ensure appropriate insurance cover is in place, including in respect of all junior cricket for which you are responsible.
Questions and Feedback
Where should further questions and feedback be directed to?
Questions and feedback specifically relating to the new Junior Formats recommendations should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please write ‘Junior Formats’ in the subject header).