Crouch calls on Bristol & District clubs to adopt linear structure
BRISTOL & District clubs will vote next month on a proposal to switch to a linear structure which will remove all barriers between first, second and A XI competitions.
If the move, for the start of the 2014 season, is adopted, a team – regardless of whether it is a first or fifth XI - could in theory be promoted all the way through the Bristol & District's complete structure, from Division Two of the A XI League, through five divisions in the second XI league, and then five divisions in the first-team competition.
The league committee has tabled the proposal after clubs last year responded to a questionnaire designed to examine its 'cricket offer' which covers start and finish times, standards, competitiveness, facilities, travel and enjoyment.
League chairman Trevor Crouch said: "We have an extremely experienced and long-serving committee – that's one of our great strengths. And that committee is 100 per cent behind this proposed change."
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The topic will be a major agenda item at the league's annual meeting on January 29, and clubs will have a further month for reflection before a vote takes place at a special general meeting on February 25.
Crouch added: "We are an inclusive league, one that welcomes anyone within a 25-mile radius of Bristol – providing they fulfil certain criteria – and the structure we have has just evolved since we were formed in 1973.
"We realise that we have to change because some of the cricket in our second XI divisions is of a higher standard than that found in Division Four of the first-team league.
"We're at the stage where we must free things up and enable teams to play at a level appropriate to their playing strength.
"We have an over-riding responsibility to encourage people to play cricket. As a league, we must, as an absolute minimum, be retaining the players we have, as well as encouraging new people to play the sport.
"We can't just sit back on our laurels. I believe local leagues must take the blinkers off and be prepared to be open to new ideas – this is the first step."
Following the SGM, the league will further open the debate on start and finish times, the length of games, including the possibility of shorter matches for A XI teams with a shorter tea break.
Crouch, referring to the results of last season's questionnaire, said: "If cricket is to survive as a major summer sport then we must reflect on what the players want."