"MIDDLESEX MAVERICKS" - A STORY OF HOW MIDDLESEX'S PARTICIPATION TEAM ARE BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS OF ENTRY TO THE GAME OF CRICKET
In 2016, the Middlesex Participation Team were running a number of Chance to Shine (C2S) Street Projects for young Adults aged 16 to 24 across the county. The players, as cricket lovers, hugely enjoyed taking part in the sessions and playing in the three London wide tapeball competitions that were organised every year.
For the majority of the players this was the cricket fix that they so desperately wanted, however there was a small group of players who wanted more - they wanted to further their involvement in the game by playing regular club cricket.
In addition to the players involved in the C2S Street sessions, Middlesex also recruited players through the ECB City Cup programme that the club ran successfully, and much like the C2S Street sessions there were players who wanted more and wanted to get into playing club cricket.
Now for many, the choice of playing club cricket is an easy enough decision to make, however for many of the players involved in Middlesex's projects there were barriers. For many of them Saturday was a working day, for others they had long standing commitments that prevented them from playing traditional club cricket. For others the financial commitment of joining a club and paying regular match fees was beyond them. All barriers that Middlesex's Participation Team had to try and break down to open up opportunities to people who were desperate to play more cricket!
The answer came in the formation of a brand new side - the "Middlesex Mavericks" - a side created by the Middlesex Participation team to provide players with the opportunity they craved - to play club cricket!
The Mavericks were entered into the Middlesex Development League (MDL) that is played on Sundays between June and July - therein creating a pathway from tapeball to hardball cricket whilst still keeping the ethos of cricket for all, regardless of the challenges they face.
In 2018, for the first time ever, the Middlesex Mavericks entered the regional qualifying rounds of the national ECB Indoor cricket competition. Although the side did not make it out of the group stage, they enjoyed the experience and we were able to give players the opportunity to play cricket in the winter for the first time.
On field success was not however the benchmark for how successful the Middlesex Maverick's would be judged to have been. The much more important fact that this eager group of youngsters were able to play in a club environment was the criteria for success - mission accomplished!
The 2019 MDL competition will be the third year that the Middlesex Mavericks have entered the competition. In the three years of its existence the Mavericks have given over 35 players the opportunity to take part in hardball and indoor cricket competitions for free.
A measure of the success of the Mavericks is that several players who've come through the side have used the Mavericks as their springboard into continuing their playing journeys elsewhere - with several now playing every week in Sunday leagues run by external agencies and some playing midweek in community leagues across the county.
Shakeel Ahmed, Participation Officer with the Middlesex Participation Team commented:
“We’ve been delighted with the success of the Middlesex Mavericks project, and it continues to go from strength to strength.
“With Middlesex being such a diverse county, we’ve got so many communities that share a huge interest in the game of cricket, but in some cases it’s been hard for players to take that first step into the game they love, for any number of reasons.
“Ultimately we want more people in Middlesex playing the game, and creating a route into the game, breaking down some of the barriers that were stopping people from playing and making the game much more accessible was our primary aim - in Middlesex Mavericks we’ve found a great way to ensure that this can happen.”
If you're interested in playing for the Middlesex Mavericks then please email Shakeel Ahmed at [email protected]