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
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.