Another League Cricket season is behind us and for players and spectators alike it has been a rather strange one in the Saturday league we play in. During the 2014/15 close season our SHPCL Leagues were reduced from 20 teams to 10 with some future prospective promotions and relegations of up to 2 x Divisions at a time, and with League matches played under two different sets of Match Formats and Match Rules!

As a player you now need a fixture card marker and a change of mind-set one third, and two thirds of the way through the season, to take account of the switches from “Overs matches with Draws” to “Limited Overs matches – Win or Lose”

As a spectator you turn up to watch a match and cannot be actually sure what is going on, and what the tactics really are/ought to be, until you have met and interrogated a player or official! A marvellous testament to confused thinking and indecision!

TWO SHPCL club surveys last year asked Clubs and Members what they wanted – presumably the first answer (pretty clear decision as I recall!) was not what the SHPCL hoped for, or wanted. So then they launch a second survey! Same answer as the first as I believe, and then ultimately the powers that be slide through a hotchpotch proposal at the winter AGM when most players are switched off, not in Cricket mode. Players tend to leave the “boring stuff” of AGM’s and other Meetings etc. to their club stalwarts/administrators – who are in the main, especially in the higher leagues, more likely NOT to vote against a League Management proposal.

So now, in summer 2015 – we have just had yet another “SHCL Club Members Survey”.

I have to say that as a past player and now “Volunteer”, I found the format rather unsatisfactory. After starting off and stating I was a non-player, and then listing all the areas where I volunteered in my Club, I then had to “masquerade” as a player from a specific division in order to be able to complete the rest of the survey! I know of several other persons who also had the same confusion/problem. So how the results can be accurately interpreted/split between players opinions and the volunteers opinions? You tell me!!

Whatever the perceived outcomes, hopefully there might be an actual decision on a SINGLE match-playing format for 2016 as the current situation is clearly ludicrous!

Dare I say it quietly – Please lets go back to what we had before, 53/47 and 47/43 – with a good well proven Bonus Points system that did work and the vast majority of players understood and enjoyed!! The new restriction on bowlers maximum number of overs IS however long overdue and if anything the maximum should be reduced further to increase numbers of bowlers contributing to matches even further!

As an even bigger IMPROVEMENT let us introduce the 53/47 format into the PREMIER and CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUES and make them AFTERNOON Cricket Leagues that players, and players families, would find less time consuming. The guys playing at this level are NOT County and International Players “in waiting”, lets give up on that ECB led pretence!! With AFTERNOON CRICKET spectators would be more likely to turn up and watch the matches, and the Club Volunteers would be less likely to resent the demands of preparing, presenting, and clearing up after the present multifarious meal and drinks breaks attached to “all day” Cricket! Additionally when the weather is poor during the days leading up to a Saturday’s match, and wickets a little lively, and bowler friendly, one can then turn up at 3.30/4.00pm for a Saturday evening of Cricket watching, and a drink at the Club Bar, to find the match already all over and possibly even the Club closed with everyone gone! Great for the Clubs Income and bar takings!

A real incentive to make the effort to turn up to watch!

I could go on, and usually do – but I am very quickly realising that I am “Yesterdays Man”. Soon, as a person who has been actively involved with Cricket for over 50 years, I will be debarred from several forms of “Volunteering” in Cricket. This is because I have neither the inclination, time, nor money, to undertake costly formal courses to get a piece of paper that says I can competently Coach, Umpire, or even Score, a Cricket Match!

That’s progress I suppose!!

Well, if I do walk away into the sunset, at least I will avoid the confusion of turning up at an SHPCL Cricket Match and wonder which match rules are in play, and “What the Hell is going on”!!!




(This Occasional column is written by John Heslam Club Chairman of Reed Cricket Club. The views expressed in the article are his own and do not necessarily comprise those of the Clubs General Committee)