For more than 90 years, Barkly Street Uniting has put an emphasis on the fun side of cricket.
The Streeters – whose motto is “The Family Club” – have an open door policy for whoever wants to play cricket in a fun environment.
Times are changing and the Streeters, among others, are slowly being left behind.
The unthinkable has happened for the Maribyrnong-based club this season.
It’s been forced to forfeit second XI matches on more than one occasion due to dwindling numbers in the senior ranks, while the quality of the first XI has suffered as a result of the lack of depth.
Streeters administrator Jeffrey Law said the issue was not confined to his club.
“I know, from speaking to people … we’re not the only ones, but I’m only worried about one particular club,” he said.
“We’ve been really hit hard this year. We’re even struggling with our ones. The quality of our players in the ones is basically seconds and thirds players playing ones because of the unavailability of people.”
Interestingly, the Barkly Street junior numbers are relatively strong.
But the Streeters worry about how to convert those juniors into senior members for long-term sustainability.
Law believes the appetite for two-day cricket is beginning to dwindle as attention spans shorten and interest in Twenty20 cricket grows.
“Two-day cricket is really struggling, it’s a dying game,” he said. “Our junior numbers are OK, but the transition from juniors to seniors these days is not great and a lot of clubs will tell you that.
“Cricket Victoria tells us that something like 80 per cent of the kids who do the Milo [junior] program never play cricket again … those stats are ridiculous.”
Barkly Street’s first XI plays in Victorian Turf Cricket Association north A1, about four rungs down from the top tier senior division.
The Streeters still have potential recruits demanding pay for play – something that is not always possible at this level.
“When you’re playing at our level, it’s more for enjoyment, a bit of fun, but some blokes want money to play,” Law said.
All Barkly Street can do is implore any cricketers in Maribyrnong and surrounding areas to contact with the club if they want to play cricket.
The Streeters continue to emphasise the club’s strengths, of which there are many.
“We just want to get people involved,” Law said.
“We’re a good club, we’re a family club, so from that point of view, people will get along well.
“We’re multi-cultural, we’ve got multiple nationalities and no one will have any issues mixing within the club.”
To join Barkly Street, contact Jeffrey Law on 0411 058 689 or through the club’s Facebook page.