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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Village cricket goes online
Characters from the demo
Characters from the online Play Cricket demo
BBC Sport Online looks at Play-Cricket - a system designed to take cricket club management into the 21st Century.

Amateur cricket has, thankfully, progressed from the days when 11 villagers would be rounded up in the pub before the night of a game to represent their local side.

These days most village sides have embraced the world of e-mail.

Rather than spend hours on the phone trying to get 11 players to agree to a fixture, a bulk e-mail gets a much faster response with a lot more ease.

But technology moves on apace, and the club website is the latest idea.

In essence, it's like scanning the noticeboard pinned up in the pavilion, but doing so from your office computer or your home PC.

Chalky, the character from the Play-Cricket demo
Play-cricket's demo features "Chalky"
Team sheets, match reports, batting and bowling averages can now all be accessed with the click of a mouse.

However, an amateur cricket side is unlikely to have a web technician among its numbers, which is where an idea launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) comes into play.

In fact, Play-Cricket (www.play-cricket.com) was launched last year, but because there was a fee involved, hardly anyone was interested in signing up.

But in March it was re-launched and miraculously there was no charge involved. The response has obviously been a lot better, and now an impressive 435 clubs are on board, plus 87 leagues and 25 County Boards.

The Kent Premier League has decided to put every division and club on the site and several thousand players' details are now registered online.

Julian Goode, the ECB website manager, explains: "What we offer is a series of free administration tools which allow clubs to run their teams better and make cost savings.

Interactive

"They can then interact with each other. Individual players can notify team captains of their availability and captains can pick their teams accordingly.

"As more and more clubs in a a particular league sign on, it builds a sense of community, and allows individual clubs to see how they are doing as a season progresses."

Another clip from the online video
Another clip from the online video
There are other features too, Goode adds. "The cricket exchange allows people to advertise if they are looking for a club to play for - or if you're a club looking for players or fixtures.

"Or let's say you're trying to organise a tour to Cornwall or something, and need to add a few fixtures, it's the ideal way to do that sort of thing.

"There are also clubs coming from overseas to England, looking for games."

He says Play-Cricket has the potential to work well with schools and the junior sections of clubs - largely due to the internet know-how of youngsters.

The simplest way to get started is to add your own club's colours and badges on a simple template which can be downloaded from the Play-Cricket home page.

If you have your own website already, you can simply show a link to your own club's page from the Play-Cricket database.

But perhaps the best reason to get involved is that the Holy Grail for every club side, the ECB National Club Cricket Championship - with a final at Lord's - is also being conducted on the website.

See also:

16 Mar 02 |  Cricket
Cricket takes centre stage
12 Feb 02 |  Funny Old Game
Let's Play: Cricket 2002
19 Feb 02 |  Cricket
How to play the SA way
25 Oct 01 |  Funny Old Game
Thorpe bowled over by game
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