How we run matches

Fun-first ethos

Our approach to running games follows our fun-first ethos.


See the How we pick teams page. In essence, the policy is to pick competitive teams, by which we specifically mean “a reasonable chance of winning” while having as much rotation as possible, and to provide players with a suitable level of challenge depending on game type.

Pairs format cricket

In pairs games, the format and league rules naturally ensure that all players participate.


All players bat in pairs for their allotted overs.


Normally all players will bowl an equal number of overs.

Wicket keeping and fielding

In softball games, this is normally rotated so that all players keep wicket during every game, and players also field in multiple fielding positions. It may seem counter-intuitive, but bowling from both ends and getting the players to run across the pitch at the end of every over to the equivalent fielding position on the other side of the pitch tends to keep the blood pumping and to keep players feeling energised and enthusiastic.

In hardball games, keeping is sometimes split between two players doing roughly half of the match each (please change at the same time as batting pairs change, not in the middle of a batting pair's overs), depending on how many players want to keep wicket and the availability of suitable keeping equipment.


In the youngest age-groups, the captain normally just needs to do the coin toss and to lead the 'three cheers' at the end of the game, and captaincy is usually awarded to a different player each game as a 'badge of honour' for notable effort, dedication, achievement or upholding team spirit shown in training and previous matches.

Conventional format cricket

Batting order and over allocation - general principles

Batters higher up in the batting order are more likely to have the opportunity to bat and to have the opportunity to bat for longer, while those lower down may not get a bat or may have to bat more aggressively, reducing their chance of a long innings.

In any given match, players who are lower in the batting order should be keeping wicket or bowling more overs than those batting higher.

Where a squad has all-rounders who are amongst the strongest batters and strongest bowlers in a match, they should normally play one or other role in any given match or bat in the middle order, bowling a medium number of overs.

An exception might be in cup games. Knock-out cup games are the one time when we expect teams to go all out to win, which can mean that players do not all get an equal chance to contribute.

If your squad is blessed with a significant number of all-rounders, rotation up and down the order should be employed from game to game.

Squads should aim to develop multiple players who enjoy keeping wicket.

As players get older, they will tend to want to become more specialised into a batting, bowling, keeping or middle-order all-rounder role, but players should not be pigeon-holed. Many professional and international players started specialising in one role as a teen, then ended up in another role as an adult.

If your squad has players who are clearly more of a batter than a bowler, or more of a bowler than a batter, then they might want to occupy a top or lower order slot on a regular basis. But this does not necessarily need to be the same position week in week out.

Suggested batting order / overs to bowl

This is based on 20 overs, 10 players per side, and a max of 3 overs per bowler as per Surrey Junior Championship U11 league rules of 2021; this can and should be adapted appropriately to the format of the age-group and to the players involved, while bearing in mind our fun-first ethos.

Batter 1 bowls 1 over

Batter 2 bowls 1 over

Batter 3 bowls 1 over

Batter 4 bowls 2 over

Batter 5 is keeper (bowls 0 overs)

Batter 6 bowls 3 overs

Batter 7 bowls 3 overs

Batter 8 bowls 3 overs

Batter 9 bowls 3 overs

Batter 10 bowls 3 overs

Innings will quite often be shorter than the full number of possible overs, due to the batting team either being bowled out or reaching their target early. Captains should aim to ensure that players in their team who are playing as specialist bowlers will bowl most of their overs early in the innings.


The captain’s first responsibility is to make the game fun for all players (see our fun-first ethos), and crucial to this is aiming to provide every player with the opportunity to make an impact on the game with bat, ball or gloves.

However, other vital elements of fun in sport are:

  • the pleasure inherent in striving to win

  • the thrill of winning a close game

  • the satisfaction of recovering from being well behind in the game

There are therefore match situations in which the captain needs to exercise their judgement in balancing the above elements.

This may mean deviating from the guidelines on occasions, for example by:

  • Giving more or fewer overs to a bowler than originally planned

  • Changing the batting order – for example by moving a better or more aggressive batter up the order

  • The allocated 3 overs can flex if a player is having a bit of an off day and someone with 1 or 2 overs has bowled particularly well.

A team bowling second could also account for who has a decent knock. A top order batter who was out early could bowl more than originally planned, whereas a number 7 or 8 might have got a long knock, so could bowl fewer than their initially planned 3 overs.

The opportunities may not always be equal in one particular game, in which case captains and team managers should aim to redress the balance in subsequent games.

Captains and captaincy

Once players are playing conventional cricket, the team needs a captain to start making more of the on-field decisions. League rules normally stipulate that parents are not allowed to direct things from the sidelines.

Is is important for parents to encourage teams be as self-reliant and self-organising as possible, and to have the opportunity to make their own decisions then to learn from them. The players will very much surprise you with how quickly they get the hang of it, and how much they enjoy this responsibility, whether they have won, lost or drawn.

Our general approach in the younger age-groups is to give captaincy opportunities to as many players as are keen to try it. We want to build a pool of players who all have tried their hand at captaincy.

As players get older, the group of players who want to captain the team tends to reduce naturally.

Rotation of the captaincy can be aligned to the type of match, with stronger captains leading in cup and league games (or higher division league games where squads are entered into two leagues), with newer captains leading more in friendlies and internal games.