Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Brisbane Heat: Yarrabah – An unlikely but productive nursery for Junior Cricket in Queensland

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Yarrabah is a small coastal Aboriginal community east of Cairns, with a population of around 4,000 people.

And this isolated town is home to a group of passionate young cricketers, three of whom recently travelled to Ingham for the Under 13 Girls Representative Carnival. 

These young cricketers have been taken under the wing of Yarrabah PCYC Youth Club manager, Andrew Guest, who noticed a group of kids who attended the after-school care program were particularly talented with the bat and ball in their pick-up games at the centre.  

“They’ve always loved playing cricket” he reflected. “They would play with a plastic bat and a tennis ball before we started playing cricket properly. Although they didn’t have a lot of technique at first with the bat, they had fantastic hand-eye coordination and were very athletic”. 

From there, Andrew threw some feelers out to see who would be interested in playing cricket properly as part of a team. To his delight, plenty showed interest. The Yarrabah PCYC cricket team is into their second season now and is comprised of girls and boys aged eight to twelve. They play in the Cairns tier one competition on weekends in conjunction with their closest club, Mulgrave Combined Cricket Club. 

Training sessions are reasonably ad-hoc and unstructured, held two or three times a week in the indoor gym at the PCYC. With the recent purchase of a bowling machine and under Andrew’s tutelage, the team practices batting, fielding and bowling.  “Amazingly, a lot of these kids have just picked up bowling naturally. I don’t know how they’ve done it; I haven’t done all that much coaching!” Andrew chuckled. 

Although they didn’t win a game during their first season, it was a big learning curve for the group, as they all figured out how the “order of operations” works on the day. With the second season in full swing now, the momentum has grown significantly. “The improvement has been amazing” commented Andrew. “Three players were selected in the Under thirteen female representative side and went to play in the development carnival in Ingham during December.” 

“The girls went really well at the carnival but unfortunately days two and three were washed out due to rain.  Chantel Gordon finished the carnival with most catches and Eunice King with most wickets.” A fantastic result for the team. 

Andrew’s goal moving forward is to keep the team going and continue building momentum. He would love to put another team on the paddock next year and has two to three boys eligible to put forward for the representative teams too. However, the future of the Yarrabah team is heavily dependent on resources and logistics. With more staff, equipment, transportation options, and facilities the team would be able to grow, and 30 kids from Yarrabah could be playing cricket on the weekend.  

With an eye on inspiring the next generation of participants and fans, the Heat recently took their first Big Bash League game of the season to Cairns and the Yarrabah kids were able to interact with the players on field and took home signed Brisbane Heat hats. 

The move of taking the BBL to Cairns is part of Queensland Cricket’s strategic priority to play more elite cricket in regional Queensland, hopefully inspiring the next generation of Queensland, Brisbane Heat and Australian stars.   

To register to play cricket this summer, head to playcricket.com.au to find your nearest club. 

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