Leagues to vote on big overhaul of club cricket
TWO club cricket competitions covering the Bristol area are considering major changes which could alter the face of the summer sport.
The Globe Sports Bristol & District League are being asked to vote next month on a radical overhaul, which could take effect in 2014.
And the Wadworth 6X West of England Premier League are also reviewing their pyramid with the possibility that a new structure could be in place for the 2015 season.
Proposals for change have been tabled after consultation by WEPL's management committee, along with the county boards of Gloucestershire Somerset and Wiltshire, with clubs.
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Priorities have been to provide the strongest quality cricket for all sides, including second and third XIs, while at the same time minimising travelling. Two alternative structures have now been drawn up, and clubs in June will be asked to express which one they prefer.
The structure receiving a majority vote will then go forward to a second ballot, set against a status quo option, in November. If the new structure proposal receives a majority vote then clubs will begin the 2014 season knowing what they are playing for when changes take effect in 2015.
WEPL is constituted as a four-tier competition – Premier One; Premier Two; Bristol & Somerset & Glos/Wilts; Bristol & North Somerset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire– with ten teams in each division.
Alternative structure one proposes a two-tier line-up of three 12-team divisions– Premier One; Premier Two Bristol & Somerset, Premier Two Glos & Wilts – with a similar second XI competition, but all other teams returning to their respective feeder leagues.
Alternative structure two would see the same first XI line-up. However, all second XIs would be placed in feeder leagues with the chance to then find an appropriate level.
This could mean a successful second XI eventually playing against other WEPL first teams. But regulations would ensure a second XI would never be in the same division as that club's first team.
The adoption of either alternative structure would have considerable knock-on effects on feeder leagues, such as the Bristol & District, Somerset, Glos County and Wiltshire competitions which would have to be reorganised to accommodate varying numbers of returning clubs.
In a letter to clubs, WEPL chairman Chris Norton said that the need to retain players was driving proposed reforms.
He said: "The ECB has expressed concerns nationally that the number of players involved in recreational cricket is decreasing.
"Sport England and ECB research shows that there is a significant drop off in participation between the ages of 14-25, and leagues and boards will be measured on the action that they take to address this issue.
"(This) ... addresses the player retention issue and serves the purpose of trying to ensure that our current and next generation of players continue to choose cricket as their natural choice of recreation."
Steve Silk, the Gloucestershire Cricket Board's cricket development manager, said that alternative structure two is the preferred option of all the boards because of the way it addresses the issues of player retention and reducing travel, while providing meaningful cricket for all teams with the removal of artificial floors and ceilings.
One hot point of debate is sure to surround the ramifications of switching to 12-team divisions and the generation of four more matches into fixture lists.
Silk said: "Most other premier leagues have 12-team divisions. It means starting a week earlier, playing on two bank holidays and finishing a week later than we do right now. The thought behind this is to get people playing more and add in more days for clubs to generate revenue."
Promoted Frenchay's hopes for the new season have received an early boost with the news that Tyrone Issit is returning for a third summer.
The South African all-rounder was a key performer as Mike Donaldson's side won the West of England Premier League's Bristol & North Somerset Division to return to Bristol & Somerset.
Richard Cecil, a life member of Bristol Civil Service who he has served as a player and officer for 25 years, is the club's new president.
Bitton, who next season will be playing in the Bristol & District League's Senior Division as well as the North Somerset's new Sunday Conference Premier One, have announced details of their winter nets.
Members of the club's three senior sides – new players also welcome – begin practice at Hanham High School on February 3 (3.45-5.45pm) for eight weeks.
Nets for juniors, meanwhile, will be staged at the John Cabot Academy, Kingswood, from February 11 (6-7pm) with an ECB Level Three coach overseeing sessions.
For more details, contact Phil Johns on 0117 9603673 or via email: email@example.com
The Bristol Youth League's 2013 fixture meeting, due to take place tomorrow, has been re-scheduled for January 28 at Frenchay (7pm).