One team or no team. That’s the dilemma

Talk of a pos­si­ble merger be­tween the top Jewish cricket teams in Lon­don con­tinue. Here, two re­spected fig­ures share their views

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - TERRY HY­MAN Terry Hy­man (Chair­man of LM Vale)

FOR

MANY YEARS ago the Jewish cricket lead­er­ship in Mel­bourne had the fore­sight to put aside any dif­fer­ences they may have had to form just one club, Mac­cabi Ajax, for all Jewish play­ers to join and that club still pros­pers with any num­ber of teams play­ing both Satur­day and Sun­day cricket. It caters for all age groups, boys and girls, of ev­ery stan­dard from the low­est leagues to the high di­vi­sions of Grade cricket, which is the near­est one can get to the State teams.

I would ad­vo­cate, not for the first time, a sim­i­lar merger for the Lon­don area teams which can now be counted on the fin­gers of one hand. Not so long ago there were be­tween 15 and 20 Jewish teams play­ing reg­u­larly. What has gone so wrong? We must recog­nise that the times we live in now have changed. Cricket can take up a lot of one’s leisure time and the de­mands of fam­ily, work, re­li­gion and, frankly, the com­puter age have had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on the num­bers of play­ers will­ing to com­mit reg­u­larly, or some­times at all, to com­pet­i­tive cricket. Don’t think that it is only Jewish clubs who are suf­fer­ing. The whole crick­et­ing fra­ter­nity is af­fected with many of the top Lon­don clubs un­able to put out Sun­day sides at all.

For­give me for not in­clud­ing the Sy­n­a­gogue teams within this con­text. I know that there are plenty of peo­ple out there who want to sup­port their shul ac­tiv­i­ties and there is cer­tainly a place for that sec­tor.

I have been ad­vo­cat­ing a merger for sev­eral years now be­cause I felt, to­gether with oth­ers, that in the long term this was the only way Jewish cricket could sur­vive. Now, more than ever, I know that this is the only so­lu­tion. The three ma­jor clubs in Lon­don have been go­ing for at least 40 years and I be­lieve that any per­ceived dif­fer­ences be­tween the clubs have long since evap­o­rated. There is a se­ri­ous short-term prob­lem and ac­tion needs to be taken now.

We can­not be nos­tal­gic over past glo­ries, if in­deed there were any, but must look to the fu­ture. If we want to have UK rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the Mac­cabiah Games ev­ery four years, where are the play­ers go­ing to come from?

We need to have a proper cen­tralised set-up to en­sure that for all those Jewish play­ers around, in­clud­ing those play­ing in pre­dom­i­nantly non-Jewish cricket, there would only be one club that they could head to that pro­vides Jewish cricket in the cap­i­tal.

At Lon­don Mac­cabi Vale we run the only colts or­gan­i­sa­tion for Jewish boys and girls. And what hap­pens when they are too old for the colts? Whilst some stay at LMV oth­ers go off to dif­fer­ent clubs, Jewish or oth­er­wise, or give up al­to­gether.

What is the point in pro­vid­ing this fa­cil­ity for play­ers who then lose their sense of team iden­tity by go­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions? They need to have a club where they can stay to­gether and im­prove year on year.

We all need to come to­gether un­der the Mac­cabi um­brella to en­sure that there is a fu­ture for Jewish cricket in Lon­don, cer­tainly on Sun­days at least. League cricket, friendlies, 20/20s, boys, men, girls and ladies, it makes no dif­fer­ence. We can cater for all with proper plan­ning and lead­er­ship. I pas­sion­ately be­lieve that this is what we need now. Let’s give it a go.

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