I've just spent my lunch watching the Emmanuel under 11s on Wandsworth Common. It struck me how much these matches are driven by convention. The kid's see their heroes on the telly in position and copy them.
The fielder's were positioned in a very decent circle around the bat in conventional positions. In reality actually you could completely dispense with the mid on, mid off, mid wicket and probably extra covers. Everything is bowled so wide that almost everything gets cross bat cut, pulled or hooked round the corner so in reality you need a bunch of points and covers, fine legs a square leg and a couple of slips. Anything that gets hit back down the ground has so little power that the bowler could deal with anything that came anywhere near him.
I say it's woeful, but actually it's struck me it's probably a sport you simply can't start playing, very well until you get the other side of puberty. The kids may have a good mind for the game but they simply haven't got the physical strength to pull it off and deftness and wile isn't something that they can draw upon either unless they can perform the absolute basics physically. A 22 yard pitch is difficult for a pre-pubescent kid to bowl down, as he simply can't get the power behind his arm to propel it down the pitch without chucking, so everything is loopy and dribbles past on the second bounce and reaches the keeper along the ground (spin is completely out of the question). Batsmen can only get the ball to the boundary consistently by wheeling their arms and cutting it. A hook, or a pull might get it there, but because there's so little pace in the ball to start with it's unlikely.
Football and rugby, are a completely different prospect altogether, watching kids as young as 8 you can spot real talent, an awareness for the game, feints, sidesteps, ball control are all skills that can be picked up and when the strength comes it's a case of honing it.
Anyone agree, or think of a sport that you can't start excelling at until you are much older?