Monday, May 27, 2024

CSA introduce Meso Cricket to bridge the gap

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Photo Credit: Gallo Images/Lee Warren

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has today launched the exciting new pilot programme, Meso Cricket during an engaging showcase at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium on Friday, 15 October.  

Meso, which is a Greek word loosely translated to ‘somewhere in between‘, is one of the major outcomes from the ongoing schools’ review and is designed to bridge the gap between KFC Mini-Cricket and formalised hardball cricket. 

Following a difficult period brought forward by the pandemic, the youth cricket numbers have decreased across the country and through this initiative, CSA is looking to address participation as well as access to the sport.

What sets Meso cricket apart is the accessibility and affordability of the playing equipment required to get a game underway. Lighter, softer and more affordable cricket balls, pads and gloves will be made available, while pitch mats and stumps will be utilised to turn any flat surface into the Newlands Cricket Ground. 

“We looked at how we could close the gap between softball and hardball cricket because there are a few entry barrier issues and one is the cost, moving from a game like Mini-Cricket to hardball where all of a sudden you need lots of equipment; pads, gloves, bats, helmets etc.” said Max Jordaan, the CSA transformation stakeholder regulations executive. 

“When introducing Meso cricket, we had to modify the equipment and commission a manufacturer to look at a ball that will be developed for the purpose of playing on a hard surface because by in large, with the facilities in the townships, we won’t have turf wickets and much of the cricket is happening on synthetic pitches,” he continued. 

“With Meso cricket, we are more cost effective in terms of the equipment, cutting our costs by 50% of the normal cricket bag. That will help us in terms of participation, bridging that gap and growing the game, especially at high schools where we could not get the numbers we were looking for before. 

“In my opinion, the cricket pathway is now almost complete; from Mini-Cricket to Meso cricket to hard-ball cricket,” Mr Jordaan concluded. 

Targeting the age group between 12-16 years old, the goal of Meso cricket is to ensure the continued involvement of boys and girls in the game of cricket, staying engaged in the sport’s learning processes while introducing the element of competition at previously dormant schools. 

Similar to the hard-ball version of the game, a Meso cricket match involves 11 players per team and each side is limited to 15 overs per innings, with the contest not taking longer than 80 minutes to conclude. 

The rules unique to Meso cricket pilot include, but are not limited to: 

  • Batting – 
    • Batters cannot be out the first ball
    • A wicket on the first ball of a player’s innings will mean 10 runs are deducted from the team total
    • Batters retire after facing 25 balls
    • Boundary size agreed upon by both teams

  • Bowling – 
    • Teams bowl from one end only
    • Each innings will be limited to 40 minutes 
    • Bowlers to have a maximum amount of overs each 
    • Bowling duties to be spread amongst the majority of the team 

CSA’s Acting Head of Cricket Pathways Edward Khoza reaffirmed the crucial role a programme of this nature will play in the development of players through the pipeline, emphasising the confidence the programme will give to players as they pursue their dreams in the sport. 

“This is an important programme we are going to pilot as South African cricket continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic and we hope it’ll have a huge role to play in bridging that critical gap in the development pipeline,” commented Khoza. 

“The struggle of transitioning from Mini-Cricket to hardball cricket isn’t only a case of interest but also a question of equipment and infrastructural challenges, particularly in our disadvantaged communities. 

“This programme allows CSA an opportunity to address this challenge with an exciting, distinct and accessible version, while the youngsters have the confidence to express their talents as they progress through the different versions of the game we all love,” Mr Khoza added. 

Present at the launch to showcase Meso cricket in action were the kids from Rosebank Primary, the Alexander Hub, Central Gauteng Lions Girls and the Orange Farm Hub. 

Initially, CSA aims to run the programme across four unions, namely, Free State, Central Gauteng Lions, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, with the equipment delivered to the identified schools that don’t play cricket or have a minimal Mini-Cricket footprint. 

Following the launch, the next steps would be to create various leagues in the regions with the ultimate aim of commencing matches in January 2022. 


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