CAPE TOWN - “Grassroots cricket, particularly school and club cricket, is the lifeblood of cricket.”
It is a phrase that is often used. In a world far away from the pampered well-paid professionals and bright lights of the cameras there is a “Boeta” or “Oom” covering the wicket by himself on a Friday evening.
And you can bet that last change in your pocket that he will be the first one back on Saturday morning putting out the cones or rope for the boundary.
It’s a thankless job, but he does it with the biggest smile on his face just so that the game of cricket can be played. It is the same with the family members who prepare those lovely teas.
This weekend, and for the coming weeks ahead, the sweet sound of willow hitting leather will be no more though.
The excited voices celebrating a wicket will also be on mute after all community based cricket was suspended this week due to the catastrophic water crisis that has hit Cape Town.
I have no doubt hordes of cricket-loving children around the city went to bed on Wednesday evening with heavy hearts after the announcement from the Western Province Cricket Association.
I know I have come across many despondent faces over the last couple of days.
It really is a sad state of affairs, especially due to the fact that cricket is one of the few outlets for any form of healthy activity for the youth in our communities.
Let me state, though, that I believe that the WPCA had no choice but to reach their #GroundZero.
The municipal facilities around the city are deteriorating by the day due to the lack of water and are in fact close to becoming hazardous.
Equally, even schools and clubs that have access to bore-hole water to maintain their facilities will now also be placed under pressure due to the Level 6B restrictions imposed by the City.
The ramifications are immense with player interest sure to dwindle over this period with some clubs possibly facing the prospect of having to close their doors.
Parents will also not be interested in investing in their child’s development when there are no matches available.
All of this will have a ripple effect as coaches and administrators who would have had agreements in place with various clubs and schools prior to this ruling set to see their workload decrease if not evaporate.
My only hope is that while the WPCA have formulated a task team to thrash out ways of how their excellence programme is going to continue in regards to the WP academies, Hub and Regional Centres and Women’s cricket going forward, the City Council also realise their responsibility of providing alternative means of recreational activities for the now inactive youth.
I have no doubt cricket in Cape Town will survive this crisis.
But now is the time for the game in this city to put aside its petty differences that often divide and instead focus on actively working on innovative solutions moving forward.