April 2016 - Get the Game On (Bill Dolman)

Get the Game On is an ECB campaign designed to boost participation in the game at a time when cricket is competing with so many other options. Time is short and cricket needs everyone – players, captains, coaches, umpires, groundsman and volunteers – to take an active role in the campaign and play their part in ensuring that as many games as possible are completed each season. This helps to keep players involved and engaged with your club.

The campaign has been taken to heart across the country and there are many stories of efforts to play games of cricket that may have been cancelled, abandoned or simply lost to forfeit’s, walkovers and weather.

Social media has been instrumental in linking clubs looking to fill spaces in their fixture lists, help players to find clubs and generally raising the profile of cricket in the local community. Cricket has really embraced this and benefitted from it.

Creating new relationships and partnerships and looking at the same problems with different perspectives has helped clubs fulfil fixtures that they might well have cancelled in the past. In 2015, Urchfont CC created a link with Lavington School to enable some of their students to get games in senior cricket with the club. Goatacre lent Shrivenham two players to ensure that their under 11 fixture could be played by two full strength teams. Get the Game On is not just about adult cricket, it’s about playing cricket full stop.

Creating opportunities for people to play cricket at either junior or senior level means that more people get more cricket and are less likely to become disillusioned with it. Calling off a fixture because one side is a couple short, disadvantages 20 other players; finding ways to help that side put out a full XI means that all 22 get to be involved. Therefore developing mutually beneficial partnerships with other local clubs, particularly for midweek and Sunday fixtures, has a huge potential short term and longer term benefit for all clubs. Sharing players and putting out teams comprising players from more than one club will help more of these fixtures be fulfilled.

Wiltshire Cricket recognises the importance of Get the Game On and includes an award at the annual OSCA’s event designed to highlight the “game day” contribution that is made by a key volunteer at one of Wiltshire’s clubs.  They are often the proactive person who is instrumental in going the extra mile to ensure the game is played rather than it being called off.

The 2015 winner was Bill Dolman from Chippenham CC. Bill knew nothing about the art of groundsmanship 13 years ago but was content to walk behind a mower, sit upon a roller or undertake whatever menial task the others required of him. Within three years those others had moved on leaving Bill to manage both grounds on his own. Instead of walking away himself and with the loyalty and commitment that are part of his make-up he stuck to the job. He has had help from a variety of unskilled volunteers but the great bulk of the effort and skill has been his in the preparation of pitches for over 100 fixtures a year over the last 10 seasons.

Impressive as that effort undoubtedly is, it is only part of his contribution to the club. As a result of years spent in the building trade he has been well placed to undertake the sort of jobs that arise in a club. He has rebuilt fences, erected storage sheds, refaced the score box, landscaped and planted the approach to the club and effected a multitude of repairs which would have cost a fortune if placed with a contractor. And on those occasions when he has lacked the skills himself, he has invariably known someone who owed him a favour and could be persuaded to repair the roller, service the mowers, weld a sightscreen etc, etc.

More than anyone, Bill has kept Chippenham CC going over the last decade giving his own time for free and saving the club thousands in the process. Five years ago the club recognised that fact by making him its President and a Life Member. His dedication and commitment to the club and his determination to ensure as many games get played as possible epitomises the attitude of Get the Game On and sets a great example to others.

With the vagaries of the British summer likely to test the patience of cricketers across Wiltshire again this summer, the ECB have prepared some useful ideas and options for encouraging games to be played wherever possible. Before you cancel a game this year have a quick look at the links below:



In addition to matchday factors, the ECB is also conscious that formats and how attractive the game of cricket looks from the outset could be the difference between whether an individual or a club decide to ‘get the game on’. Over the winter, ECB has responded to calls from clubs and leagues to summarise the findings of three years’ worth of survey results and has come up with a document entitled the ECB League Blueprint. This document can be found here http://getthegameon.co.uk/blueprint

This document is being used locally by Wiltshire Cricket as the Board attempts to visit all 53 clubs with teams in the Wiltshire County Cricket League to discuss a number of league playing conditions and regulations with a view to getting a considered view from the membership of the League as to key things that need to be proposed ahead of this Autumn’s AGM, things that will hopefully make the league a more attractive one to play in, and one that makes getting the game on more attractive to players and captains.  

Get the Game On is a campaign that is projected nationally but delivered by local people at local cricket clubs. People like Bill, people like you. Wiltshire Cricket would like to thank everyone involved in the provision of cricket across the county at every level – your often un-noticed efforts make a huge difference to the players that take advantage of the work you do. Good luck for the coming year!