What health is Club Cricket In?

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September is almost upon us which means we’re entering the final month of the cricket season.

 

Congratulations to Netherfield for winning the Northern League at the weekend while the Palace Shield’s  Premier Division looks like it’s going to the wire between Garstang and Fulwood & Broughton.

 

Good luck to all the teams in the promotion mix. Of course when you play at White Coppice Cricket Club nobody talks about promotion anymore.

 

Saturday’s defeat against Whittingham & Goosnargh was our 17th straight defeat of the season. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. Although we haven’t won a game success for us is fulfilling our fixtures and hopefully picking up the odd win.

 

However with just a few games left what health is club cricket really in? Thankfully not every club has endured the struggles of White Coppice in fielding a team but league officials have woken up to the reality that something needs to happen.

 

The Palace Shield and Northern League are reorganising in 2018 to create some type of pyramid system although I won’t profess to being clever enough to understand everything entailed.

 

It’s refreshing to see the number of youngsters at clubs like Chorley, Leyland, Longridge and Blackpool, which augurs well for the future.

 

On a similar note big congratulations to Chorley and Longridge for their successful beer festivals over the bank holiday weekend. As well as bringing money into the coffers it also raises the profile of the respective clubs to locals.

 

That’s very positive but the biggest problem remains the same and that’s the lack of adults playing cricket and I don’t know what the solution is.

 

People know about White Coppice’s player shortage, culminating in only having seven players for one match against New Longton but it’s not a problem unique to us. Houghton; Withnell Fold; and Freckleton have all had their challenges while Chorley 3rds conceded their  Division 5 game with WIthnell Fold’s 2nds on Saturday.

 

Player shortages isn’t just a problem in the Palace Shield. Chorley 2nds recently had a Northern League bank holiday cup  game against Morecambe forfeited to them recently because their opponents couldn’t raise a team. That’s a sad state of affairs.

 

All of which brings me to a very welcome consultation the Palace Shield carried out of  lower divisions.

 

The survey looked at options for increasing / maintaining player numbers in the lower divisions, specifically aimed at people who play regularly in divisions four and below.

 

The Palace Shield hope to come up with measures to make it easier to play more regularly, including regional divisions; earlier or later start times; and reducing the number of overs per innings etc.

 

The findings are available on the Palace Shield website but what’s clear is everyone’s got a different opinion.

 

Some cricketers were in favour of regional divisions but some were against; a small majority were in favour of 1pm starts but at just over 50 per cent it was hardly conclusive; most of the respondents were against the overs being reduced from 45 overs to 40, 35 or even 30.

 

So where does that leave us? Clearly we know what the problem is but coming up with a solution is a lot harder. There isn’t a panacea but at least people are having a conversation.

 

Personally I think clubs with a strong youth section and their own bar have got a chance. The big clubs will be okay but the village teams will continue to struggle. Merging with other clubs is a short-term fix to a deep-seated problem but I think it’s a route a lot of clubs will pursue.

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  • Last modified on Wednesday, 30 August 2017 15:29
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