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I am midway through a season of indoor cricket having put together, organised and captained a new team at the start of this season. Initially it was a struggle getting enough players together to be able to enter a team and we played undermanned for the first few games which in any 6 a side sport, especially indoor cricket, is a huge disadvantage and can be quiet demoralising.

This is a social comp/team and everyone has work and family commitments that make them unavailable from time to time, some more than others.

Originally I told everyone that I'd try and share the games around so that if we had more players than needed available on a given week, the player who had played less games would get a go. However we are now in the situation in which the players who have played more games are the ones who have been with the team "through thick and thin" having to cope with playing undermanned, which also costs them money since the indoor centre charges a flat rate per team per game. Other players have been unavailable less often and so have played less games but also therefore haven't had to put in the hard yards of building the team and making sure it could get off the ground. All of a sudden everyone seems available and I'm left having to work out who (potentially myself included) will have to miss games.

So, what is the standard etiquette in social sport in this situation? Should loyalty be rewarded or does fairness dictate the number of games be made as equal as possible for all players? Note that no one has done anything wrong by being unavailable, just that everyone has different levels of commitments to other things.

Edit: I should point out, for those unfamiliar with cricket, that substitutes are not possible in any form of cricket including indoor cricket. The logical option of sharing game time that is possible in most other sports is not an option in cricket.

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Meta discussion here: meta.sports.stackexchange.com/questions/307/… –  edmastermind29 Jan 9 '13 at 19:25
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Interesting question. Indeed, Cricket Australia might be interested if you can come up with an answer to the thorny "rotation" issue. –  Spinner Jun 19 '13 at 19:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I have been in what appears to be this exact same situation (captaining a social indoor cricket team). There is no single right answer, but here are some ideas that appeared to work.

  • First, clarify your approach upfront, before you form the team or enter it into the competition. If you said you'd share the games around, then you should stick with that, I suppose.
  • Consider the purpose of your team. If you want to win, you want to pick the best players, obviously. Or do you want to prepare yourselves for the upcoming outdoor season? Then you should prefer players who are likely to be involved in that.
  • We always preferred players who come to training. That should narrow things down, especially when a lot of people become "suddenly" available.
  • Prefer early commitments. If the game is on Friday, make people sign up by Monday or Tuesday.
  • Share the blame, so to speak. Form a selection committee of some kind, either by naming a vice captain or by getting the coach or the club chairman or someone like that involved, so no one can accuse you of just making stuff up.
  • You can also prefer people who can score and/or umpire, as necessary.
  • Pick a few games that you want to win, and put your best team into that. Pick other games that you probably cannot win, and put everyone else into that. You need to find a balance, of course, but at least this way it's less than random.
  • Do rotate, if that's what you agreed upon at the start. Sure, it seems a bit unfair sometimes, but you can always give those people who held the team together early on another go later. They would expect the same if the situation were reversed.
  • Do rotate yourself, to show that no one is above the system.

If your aim, as a social team, is not primarily to win at all costs, then your aim should be to encourage behavior that is conducive to the long-term development of your team, your club, and your sport. So encourage coming to training, encourage committing to being available, encourage learning how to score, encourage being a 7th man.

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I agree with much of what you say. Your team's aims should be clear, perhaps even written down and publicly stated, thus helping to justify your selection choices to team members, and encouraging all to work towards the same goal (whether that be enjoying the social aspects of the team, winning the league, or something else). –  Spinner Jun 19 '13 at 19:41

I'm not familiar enough with Cricket to offer a specific, concrete solution. However, in games like softball or soccer, it's not at all uncommon to have people split their time in the game. So, person A plays the first half of the game while person B plays the second half. In the case of soccer, it may be delineated by periods, while in softball it may be delineated by number of innings or, perhaps, the number of at bats a particular player has had. Would that model work in cricket?

Alternatively, for a different team sport like a bowling league, people do sign up specifically to be an alternate. So, they only play and only pay if a primary participant is not available to play. At least with this model, they know to expect not to play and are simply pleasantly surprised when they have an opportunity to.

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Clarified in the question that substitutions are not possible in cricket. Certainly a good option for similar situations when playing most other sports. –  Bogdanovist Jan 8 '13 at 10:18
    
Do you play multiple games per session? Can you switch players between games and not violate rules? –  Jacob G Jan 8 '13 at 15:09
    
Downvote, really? Is it because I offered potential solutions but don't know cricket? –  Jacob G Jan 9 '13 at 18:54
    
+1 from me, I see no reason for the downvote. –  Bogdanovist Jan 10 '13 at 3:05

What do players that are available but are not playing, because you have enough, do? If you play it as a social sport, everyone wants to be there, even though they don't play.

In that case, the best option is making sure that everyone has the same amount of time without playing (as a substitute). Otherwise, it can happen (as an extreme case), that one player is absent every other week, thus playing half of the games and being absent the other half. A second player, acts as a substitute when guy number one is present, and plays the other matches. This is very demotivating for the second player. The solution would be, to let them both play two thirds of the games that they are present.

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A good solution, but alas substitutes aren't possible in cricket. It's all or nothing. Your answer is applicable to most other sports though. –  Bogdanovist Jan 8 '13 at 10:19
    
@Bogdanovist Well, it also applies to cricket, but then they should be present as supporter or something. –  Bernhard Jan 8 '13 at 10:44
    
Who downvoted my answer and why? I agree it is not the best answer to this question, but it certainly is an answer... –  Bernhard Jan 9 '13 at 19:35

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