While the numbers taking part in OC competitions remain much the same as last year [a small drop from 2052 to 2033], the apparent stability hides a considerable amount of movement within the overall total. The good news is that in 2017 a total of 575 players made their debut [or returned to the sport after a layoff]. There were 558 who were totally new to Cricket Leinster Open Comps in 2017. While this is certainly positive and shows that there are new players coming into the sport each year - it does suggest at the very least that it is proving difficult to entice domestic players back into the sport once they have stopped playing.
On the other side of the equation an even higher number did not continue playing in 2017. We will return to the issue of the drop out rate in a later article. For the moment let us look more closely at those who took up the game in 2017.
Of those who did not play in 2017 but not in 2016, there were a relatively small number who returned to the game after a gap year[s]. But the vast bulk of the new players were debutants and a good number of these made there way from youth cricket.
133 youth players [U19] started their senior club career in 2017. Of these 9 were in the U13 age bracket [calendar year], 39 Under 15 and 43 Under 17. In the case of those taking up the sport aged 18/19, [and a few of those in the U17 age bracket] it is mainly players coming from overseas. With the exception of a small number of players who return to the sport while playing for Trinity, it must be concluded that very few will start playing competitive adult cricket in their late teens.
The main bulk  of the new players in Leinster are from overseas. This equates to just over 75% of all new adult players. One can never be certain that the dates of birth given are correct. But on the basis of the figures provided nearly two thirds of those [non-domestic] on debut are over 30.
But an examination of the remaining 100 players who took up or returned to the sport one finds that 20% did not confirm their cricketing origins and it likely that some of these are in fact players from overseas.
The number of players who learnt their cricket outside of Leinster [the figure relating to Overseas is about cricketing origins and not nationality] continues to grow. It has been critical to the growth of the sport over the past number of years. But it does serve to highlight the challenges facing the club game in attracting and retaining players who have grown up through the domestic youth structures. As matters stand the club game faces challenges integrating youth players in OC competitions [less so it is believed in WC but this is an observation that needs further examination] and retaining players once they have left school. This is a massive issue and one that will need to be addressed if the club is to progress. Something no doubt for the Club Day.
The figures also show an increase in the number of youth players who competed in OC competitions in 2017. In 2016 there were 359 [U18] players, and this has gone up to 377. A more detailed breakdown will follow.
The table below provides the key participation figures for clubs in the past year.
Please note the aggregate figures differ slightly from the above due to the small numbers of players who turned out of more than one club.