These last couple of weeks I've been lucky enough to be involved in a school tournament and two separate pathways programs, and this article is specifically focused on pathways programs, something of which I've been coaching for 15 years now, both male and female.
One of the big moral and ethical dilemmas that arises is development vs winning.
Which is more important?
When you select under age pathways teams, you have players who can play multiple roles - these kids are talented and generally all bat and bowl.
Given there's only so much time in a game of cricket, you pick players and give them specific roles. An example would be a new ball bowler - you select them to bowl with the new ball, or a top order batter, to bat, you guess it - in the top order; I've had a couple of kids who could have comfortably batted top order or bowled more overs, but resisted the temptation.
So why would you move a player around which then takes away a great learning experience from them?
Because there's a win and points on the line.
Some coaches - young coaches (I used to be the one), feel that the only way they will get acknowledged and respected as a coach is by winning. So, when a team needs 8 an over and the next batter in is a young guy lacking power, they promote the big hitter, or, they identify the pitch favours spin bowlers so bowl their spinners with the new ball.
Now, I know what you are thinking - this is good tactical move. And yeah, sure, I'd consider it if I was a captain in a game with match points on the line.
But a "pathway" program is a "development" program, and should always be used as such.
What do you believe? How should pathway programs be utilised - for regional power and coach ego-stroking, or for the holistic development of players who have been selected to complete those specific roles?
I've raised potentially more questions than I have provided answers here; let me know your thoughts.