February 2016 - Indoor Cricket

It’s February. Spring is on its way but summer still seems a little out of reach when it comes to the sound of leather on willow. Cricketers around the country are beginning to emerge from hibernation to make their first tentative efforts at batting or bowling. However there are a group of players that have been active all winter, involved in a format of the game that is often ignored or forgotten about. So on the eve of Burbage & Easton Royal CC representing Wiltshire in the regional indoor semi-finals, we’re taking a look at indoor cricket, its role in the delivery of cricket opportunities and the provision in Wiltshire.

There are two main types of indoor cricket; one played with a soft ball essentially inside a large, high tension net cage and the other a more reflected version of the traditional game played in sports halls with a hard ball. Speed is a key attribute of both games; they are quick games played in 60 – 90 minutes, the enclosed space mean that reflexes and reactions are key and often the environment can resemble a pin-ball table with players and the ball moving in different directions.

The ability to play the game in a short space of time and regardless of weather conditions is a huge benefit to people with limited opportunities. Games are not called off (unless the opposition struggle to field a team), and this means that participants can get their fix of cricket and fit it in around other commitments.

This satisfies the ECB’s aim to provide more opportunities for people to play a version of the game that suits them. The traditional model of people playing cricket within Saturday league cricket is evolving with greater work and family commitments and more alternative options to spend disposable time and money. In order to encourage more people to play the game, and retain more people on the verge of dropping out, the provision of different formats means that the game is being shaped according to demand.

It certainly doesn’t mean that it is a dumbed down version of the game. The speed of the ball in confined spaces can very easily leave you flat-footed as a fielder but can also make it very difficult for batsmen to run singles (worth two in indoor cricket). Power still has its place, and the ability to crash the ball straight back for 6 is irreplaceable, but placement, subtlety and experience can play a huge role in being successful as a batter.

Tactics are often determined by the bowler’s knack of being able to bowl one side of the wicket without pushing the wide lines. With only four fielders allowed, many sides choose to place three on one side and bowl a tight line to that field. The best batsman can adapt their techniques to move around in the crease, use the angles off the corners of the walls and the pace of the ball to simply deflect and guide the ball into spaces. In short, some players can make the game look remarkably easy, while others can really struggle. This isn’t a lesser, or poorer version of the game, it’s just different, with different skills required to be successful.

In Wiltshire there are four leagues available providing indoor cricket in Salisbury, Swindon, Chippenham and Marlborough for 52 sides. The winners of each league come together to play the County indoor final in February with the champion side of Wiltshire going on to regional rounds of the ECB national competition; the process that Burbage are currently involved in.

Many of these sides compete in the outdoor summer leagues; whether that be WEPL, Wiltshire League, Hampshire League or Southern Premier, while some sides are more social creations that are pulled from existing clubs, work and friend groups. Irrespective of where players come from, indoor cricket provides an opportunity to keep fit, stay involved with the game over the winter, be involved in the game if work commitments prevent further involvement in the summer and catch up with friends.

With cricket struggling to retain its player base and more people having less time to commit to the game, providing alternative versions of the game is essential. With that in mind, it’s great to see that Wiltshire’s indoor cricket scene is alive and well.

For more information on the indoor cricket leagues around Wiltshire and a report on the latest indoor county Finals in February 2016 please click on the link below:

Indoor Cricket


Wiltshire's representative in the National Indoor Cricket knockout stages, Burbage & Easton Royal CC, got within 5 runs of the National finals at Lords, losing to Exeter University CC in the regional national final.