How a club runs their youth section says a lot about a club and its structure. My club, has around 120 youth teams members, from under 7 through to under 15's. We no longer have an under 17's team as we have 4 Saturday league sides, it was thought, the better youth players, would have plenty of opportunity to play league cricket.
We probably have 8 youth players from under 13's up worthy of playing in the Cherwell league most weeks. But we also have around 55 adult members. So, 63 players to fill 44 league spots every Saturday, there lies the problem. We have a great youth structure with at least 5 x level 2 coaches, 2 x Club coaches and 1 x level 4 coach. What we do not have is a foolproof way of developing youth cricketers to play adult cricket. We do have many older players in the 3rds and 4ths so, why don't they step down and play Sunday cricket, to give the younger players the chance to develop.
There are two arguments,
Why should the full paying members make way for the younger players. They all disappear to university anyway so you can't run a club without the older players. The older members, in the 3's and 4's are usually the guys doing most of the work behind the scenes at the club, so deserve a game.
Get the youth players in to develop them quicker. Playing adult league cricket is the only way to improve them quickly. Why should the old guys stop the development of our junior players. They are the future after all.
The problem with Youth (u15 and U17), League Cricket in Oxfordshire, is the season is only 5 games long. If you do not qualify for the knockout stages how can that be deemed a season. Yes friendlies could be arranged and are but, they definitely are not a substitute for league Cricket.
One suggestion was to start a 5th team, for a couple of senior members to run and blood all the youth players, deemed good enough, in that side. Not a bad suggestion, but when the holiday season kicks in unless you have plenty of back up you will struggle to fill all five sides. Those are the weeks the younger players are welcomed into the adult sides as without them league points would be thrown away.
The other suggestion was to integrate the younger players in the 4 adult sides and to have a rota for the older members of the club. This then raises another issue, what if you are not available, does this count as your week off or would you then step down the following week, meaning you could miss half of the months games. The other option was to guarantee the older member a game in the Sunday side.
Either way players would be unhappy. Does you club have a policy to integrate the better youth players into the adult set up?
A side issue, when the youth player joins the adult side, they are there on merit and should get used as an adult would. We have had occasions, where a younger player was picked as a bowler but, the captain refused to use him as he hadn't seen him bowl. The same player was continually moved down the batting order, as wickets fell, as the captain wasn't sure if he was capable. This is surely no way to improve the player and may end up turning him away from the game. If a junior member is called up to an adult side he must be treated as an equal.