JAMES Carr believes Southland Cricket’s next important assignment is to try and ensure the boom in primary school playing numbers transfers to the teenage ranks.
After two years as Southland Cricket Association’s development officer, the Englishman will finish up with the organisation tomorrow and head back to the United Kingdom.
Carr has played an important role in continuing the resurgence of junior numbers in Southland, in particular with girls’ cricket.
It resulted in him last year being named New Zealand Cricket Development Officer of the Year at the annual awards.
His predecessor at Southland Cricket, Sam Ward, won the award in 2016.
When Ward handed over the reins, Carr said the systems he had put in place set him up well.
He was confident he had also left the various development programmes in good stead for Southland Cricket’s new development officer, Mark Reid, who started this week.
Reid joins Southland Cricket following roles with Mid Canterbury Cricket and Sport Canterbury.
Carr had been involved in cricket administration at a volunteer level in England but was unable to pick up a job in English cricket circles.
He applied for various development roles in New Zealand before Southland Cricket offered him an opportunity.
He appreciated the experience Southland had provided him and said it had been a difficult decision to leave Southland.
“It has been an awesome experience, the job has been everything I hoped for and more,” he said.
Carr said the plan was to continue in a cricket-related job when he returned to the United Kingdom.
Last summer Southland Cricket grew its entry level primary school numbers to 60 boys’ teams and 30 girls’ teams.
“The key is try to find ways to keep those kids playing in their teenage years,” Carr said.
Carr felt a big factor behind the growth in primary school numbers had been the introduction of modified games which kept the children engaged.
He felt modified versions of games were also the way forward to ensure secondary schools’ playing numbers also grew.
Southland Cricket Association general manager Jason Domigan said Carr had been an asset to sport in Southland.
“James came into Southland Cricket with very little understanding of the game in New Zealand and within two years he has grown and developed the community side of the game to levels not seen in other parts of the country.
“He has a passion to get kids to pick up a bat, have a go and have some fun. He has broken down some of the perceptions that cricket is a long and boring game.”