by Michael Hall
Junior Cricket in Switzerland is a little unusual as it is played all year round, with fantastic indoor facilities to use in the winter, and so the seasons line up with the school year. While the
2019/2020 season was a year of many unprecedented situations, the 2020/21 junior cricket season had some more positive firsts to celebrate. The season saw an U19 Leman Cup as well as U9
tournaments in Zuoz and Basel. The hundreds of junior cricketers in Switzerland were fortunate to have the outdoor season almost unaffected for them, and two additional outdoor tournaments were
held during the usual “international” parts of the calendar, which meant that a team could still play 16 competitive matches of cricket. Over the season, almost 10,000 competitive runs were
scored and over 900 wickets taken.
Cossonay hosted the traditional season opener, the Leman Cup. As usual this pits club representative sides from the “German” speaking clubs (Zurich Crickets and Basel Dragons) against a “French” side (Cossonay, Gingins, GRYCC). This year the event was watched by Bob Barber who also presented his outstanding junior cricketer awards to the winners of the last full season. As noted before, increased numbers in the U17 and U19 age groups meant the event was played for the first time in the colts age group. This time around, Schweiz won the U11, U13 and U19 matches, and Suisse prevailed at the U15 event.
Players had barely a moment to draw breath before the Romande Cup came around, hosted by GRYCC. With senior cricket ongoing, there was no U19 event this time. Close competition saw the local Gingins/GRYCC team win the U11 event, Zurich Crickets prevail at U13 and a Basel Dragons/GRYCC side at U15.
As the outdoor season came to a close, there was still hope that the Gingins indoor tournament would happen, but as COVID cases began to rise and restrictions came in, it was not to be. Fortunately clubs only lost 2 months of training time, and soon the outdoor season came again. In April, when national squads would normally have training, GRYCC once again hosted a tournament at Bout-du-Monde - the GRYCC Summer Cup.
An U9s side also participated, showing that numbers in the youngest age group were increasing. In the older age groups, Zurich Crickets won the U15 edition, a Basel Dragons/Cossonay side won the U11 and Basel Dragons won the U13 event.
While junior domestic cricket was going full speed, travel restrictions meant that international tours were off the agenda. To partially fill the gap, Zurich Crickets hosted invitational match days at Winterthur and Embrach for 22 of the best players in the age group over Ascension in May.
June saw the welcome return of the Zuoz Festival of Junior Cricket, hosted by the Lyceum Alpinum and organised by Zurich Crickets. Held at the highest cricket ground in Europe, it sees all the age groups playing matches at the same time. With the U9 numbers growing, a strip was cut and rolled for them to have a tournament too, which was won by Zurich Crickets. The school’s cricket master, Mark Dobson also oversaw the school’s girls team play their first competitive match against a Swiss Wanderers side with players from all the clubs. In the club competitions, a Gingins/GRYCC side won the U11 title, Zurich Crickets the U15 and they also won a last ball thriller against Basel Dragons in the U13s.
As the school holidays rolled around, and travel still not on the agenda, Zurich Crickets hosted a repeat of the Summer Cup. Basel Dragons hosted the U9 event at the Bachgraben astro-turf and the
home side prevailed. It seems home advantage was the order of the day at the new pitch in Embrach as Zurich Crickets won the
U11 and U15 events. They were also undefeated
in the U13 event, but a thunderstorm forced the abandonment of the final against Basel Dragons and that title was
Players, umpires, scorers, organisers and parents have a short respite before the 2021/22 season kicks off in September!
For the older players, Zurich Crickets continued their progress in the senior competitions, and had two teams in both T20 and 40 over competitions. Numbers are so strong, a 3rd XI is being considered for 2022! Other clubs have seen the benefits of having the stronger juniors playing and have given opportunities too. In order to recognise the contribution of junior and young players in the senior leagues, Patrick Henderson has sponsored Emerging player of the Year trophies.
On the administrative side, I am very pleased that Cricket Switzerland’s application to the ICC was successful and look forward to the opportunities this will provide. The Junior sub-committee met every two months to discuss how to progress junior cricket and they will have a lot more to think about in the future. Across the age groups, the number of active players is very healthy, and there is a small, but keen and growing contingent of girls and young women. The Cricket Switzerland AGM in February also welcomed two new clubs with junior members, Cricket Club Wettingen and Luzern Cricket club. I am excited to see them get active in the coming seasons.
A healthy number of junior parents took advantage of the ECB ACO Umpire Stage One course run last season by Cricket
Switzerland and even more have taken the online version since, all supporting the push to improve umpiring standards in the game. CricHQ continues to be used to score all matches and tournaments, and to help train up new scorers an online course was created. Similarly, with so many players needing to be set up, a cricHQ administration
course is also available.
While unable to host their indoor event, that didn’t stop Basel Dragons who hosted a series of online coaching sessions during the winter lockdown as well as hosting a streamed indoor internal tournament, and a day-night event in the summer.
Many thanks to all the clubs, coaches, officials, parents and players for their commitment to the sport, without them we would not be able to offer as much as we can. I hope for a return to a more normal season of cricket, with a chock-full calendar in 2021/22!
Youth Development Officer