During the Second World War American engineers sought to design the perfect seat for pilots. They examined the size, height and weight of the members of the pilot corps and designed a seat for the average pilot. Unfortunately very few pilots conformed to the average and the vast majority found the new seat very uncomfortable. A more adjustable solution was devised.
I mention this as a cautionary tale as we seek to profile the typical 1stXI based on the returns from the Leinster Senior League Cup.
The average age of those participating is 25 and they got their first cap at this level six years ago. The typical squad is 16 [average 16.36] but these range from 13 to 19 [see table below]. Teams have awarded between two and three senior debuts [2.69] so far this season, with 2.5 youth players [18 or less] getting at least one start. The ratio of domestic [learnt their cricket in Leinster] to external players is about 3/2.
Of course no team actually looks like this and you would be hard put to say which conforms closest to the norm given the different variables used. In the end the breakdown, and any lessons that might be taken from it, must be on a club by club basis.
The following table provide an initial profile based on the 229 players who have taken part in the Leinster Senior L/C this year.
First some explanation of what the headings refer to. Youth includes all players born after 1stJanuary 2000 [excluding a couple of players coming from outside of Ireland]. Debuts refers to the first time a player has taken part in what used to be called Leinster ‘senior competitions’ [excludes T20 competitions]. The ‘LCU’ heading lists the number of players who have learnt their cricket in Leinster, while Home relates to players who first played open cricket in the same club as the one they are now with. Finally, ‘Change’ gives us figures on the numbers that have changed club [open competitions] at any time and ‘First Club’ where they might have come from [the first club where they took part in open competitions].
Clubs may well take their own measure of how they appear relative to others in the Table. But what are the lessons, if any, for Leinster cricket.
The first and most important question. Are we producing enough cricketers through our youth structures to replace those leaving the sport. On the face of it an average of 2.5 per team [and more will be added through the season] does not seem too bad a figure. But the drop out thereafter is significant. After five years from initial debut the number of players still playing drops to the mid-teens and finally below 10 within a decade [see table below of debuts over the last decade of current players]. Of course this includes overseas and other players who may no longer be in the country, but it still represents a sharp drop off in domestic players.
How successful are clubs in developing youth players. Of course the figures can only tell part of the story as it may be more difficult to break into the senior squads of some teams than others. But the percentage of Home players and, perhaps more relevant, the First Clubs where many players were introduced to the sport, provides some interesting background. A couple of things stand out – the relatively high number of players moving between Fingal clubs and the figures for Terenure who have seeded players in many other clubs but got few in return. There is also a pathway [not shown in the main Table] from other Leinster clubs [not ‘senior’ clubs at the time] of just 7 current players.
The breakdown between, for want of a better designation, domestic and external players shows a 60/40 split in favour of domestic players. This is very different from the open competitions in general where the ratios are reversed [and perhaps pushing up beyond 70% of adults who did not learn their cricket in Ireland]. The high proportion of debuts awarded to external players this year may be an indicator of a change in the proportions at the highest levels of club cricket. But you would want to look at this over a longer period to identify any trends.
So some initial figures for clubs to mull over. But there is really no typical or average team.