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Bowling 'em over . North Otago junior cricketers such as Lochie Mavor will play on smaller pitches this season. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

North Otago cricket is going to get smaller so it can (hopefully) get bigger.

Junior grades will this summer play on smaller pitches in the hope it will give younger players more opportunity to get bat on ball and vice-versa.

“We’ve had little children playing on long wicket blocks, and so much of the game is wides and no-balls because the little ones struggle to bowl the ball to a length,” North Otago cricket president Peter Cameron said.

“We’re going to have reduced pitch lengths to try to remedy that.”

New Zealand Cricket was looking at trialling some changes after reviewing some research done in the Australian junior ranks, Cameron said.

“All the data over 6000 innings they looked at in Australia showed the ball being hit more often, the number of wides being reduced markedly, and more enjoyment for everybody.

“The idea, really, is to get a sharper, shorter game.”

Year 7-8 teams will play eight-a-side cricket on 18m pitches, and year 5-6 teams will play on 16m pitches.

North Otago was also planning to introduce a new secondary schools grade, Cameron said.

“There has been concern over some young men playing against adults, and the feeling is a lot give up because they don’t enjoy it.

“We’re going to try eight-a-side cricket in T20 or similar format, and hopefully we’ll have two teams from each of the boys’ high schools.

“Hopefully, that will bring some young players back or keep them in cricket.”

North Otago used to have a third grade competition for secondary school teams but numbers dropped away.