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Lancashire League mulling over new proposals to improve local cricket

Proposed rule changes to the Lancashire League could be given the green light at the league’s next meeting on January 30.

Proposed rule changes to the Lancashire League could be given the green light at the league’s next meeting on January 30.

Over the past year, several ideas have been put forward for freshening up the league format to keep people playing in the league and also encourage people to watch more local cricket.

League chairman Mike Bibby canvassed club captains and players to gauge their opinion and the most popular suggestions were put to the committee last year.

The league representatives meet on the last Wednesday of every month and at this month’s meeting they will vote on which proposals they would like to see introduced for the 2013 season.

Only those carried forward this month will come into effect this year as changes must be ratified at the league’s AGM in February.

The most significant proposal is limiting the overs a bowler can bowl in one innings.

The proposal, if brought in, would mean that one bowler may bowl 17 overs and the rest a maximum of 14.

Each team would therefore have to use at least four bowlers for a 50-over match, while at present they could have two bowling 25 each.

There could also be changes to the Twenty20 competition. A sub-committee was set up to look at how it could be improved and they will present their recommendations at this month’s meeting.

Power plays could be introduced, along with a finals day.

Although a handful of clubs have expressed an interest in joining the Lancashire League, it won’t happen this year.

There had been calls for the league to expand from the current 14 clubs, perhaps even introducing a second division with promotion and relegation.

"I think the changes up for consideration this month will brighten things up," said Bibby.

"We need to move with the times. A lot of other changes have been suggested but I don’t envisage those coming into effect for two or three years.

"They can’t all come in at once.

"The league’s been going for 121 years and some people don’t like change.

"We mustn’t make changes for the sake it but we should consider change for the better.

"Currently we consist of 14 member clubs but there is interest from elsewhere and therefore, when time comes to discuss this, I hope that the subject is given a fair hearing.

"We may not get another opportunity for years to come."

A proposal needs nine of the 14 clubs to vote in favour in order to be carried and if local clubs are anything to go by, the bowling change will come in this season.

"We’ll be voting for it," said Church captain Craig Fergusson. "I think it’s a step in the right direction for the league.

"It gives amateur bowlers a chance to bowl, rather than professionals bowling 25 from one end. It also gives captains something to think about. If we have to use four bowlers it’ll test our captaincy skills a bit more.

"We’ve got plenty of amateur bowlers here so it should suit us down to the ground."

Fergusson feels 14 clubs is a "good number" for the Lancashire League, although experienced Accrington bowler David Ormerod believes "two more would be a good idea."

The 41-year-old would also welcome giving his knees a break from bowling 25 overs while giving the league’s up-and-coming bowlers a chance to develop.

"I think it’s long overdue," he said.

"The days of big-name professionals attracting people through the gates are long gone.

"It’s time to look at changing to bring us in line with one-day rules in the rest of the world.

"The Lancashire League is so competitive that captains do what they need to do to win games and at Accrington we’ve been competing for the title.

"Captains may have the best intentions, of giving young players a bowl.

"But as a senior bowler, if you’re given the ball and you’re bowling well then captains are loathe to take you off.

"It’s about striking a balance so perhaps it’s a good thing for a rule to be brought in to stop that.

"It will help bring on young bowlers because they’ll be in the side and they’ll have to have a bowl.

"If you’ve got a bowler who can bowl half the overs then you don’t need any others in the side.

"You might have a couple of back-up bowlers in case you need them but that’s no benefit to anyone."

 

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