Accrington captain Jimmy Hayhurst can be content that he has pro Ashar Zaidi for the season – but he still advocates a change in the professional rules.
The expense of paying a professional in tough financial times and the fact many can’t stay for the full season has called Hayhurst to suggest an ‘overseas player’ rather than a paid man.
In the last few weeks, Rishton and Bacup have lost their professionals to injury and the Emerging Nations tournament respectively, while Rawtenstall have had to change their pro after Malinga Bandara was called up to Sri Lankan Twenty20 tournament without ever arriving in England.
"It is hard at the moment with the finances," said the Thorneyholme Road captain.
"We have got Ashar for the season which is a boost for us but he is a hot property because he lives in Manchester and, if he turns in good performances, then other clubs will be looking at him for an option next season and perhaps can offer more money than us.
"But in general, I think it is getting harder and harder to get professionals who can stay the full summer as so many are going off to the Emerging Nations tour, the Indian¿Premier League or the counties are taking a large number which makes it a battle for many clubs.
"I think the way forward could be to get young players from perhaps Australia or New Zealand amateur/district cricket, their first grade, who are up-and-coming decent players and who won’t get called up to any international games and these could be ‘overseas amateurs’.
"Other leagues have them although some have both overseas amateurs and professionals. The advantage of an overseas amateur though is that a club may pay their air fare but they could room with someone, and perhaps work if permits allow.
"When a pro comes over you pay for him, sometimes his family, a car, a house and it is hard for some clubs – we struggled a couple of years ago and almost went out of existence due to finances.
"We have to do a lot of fundraising to raise funds to pay for the pro’s wages when sometimes they aren’t always better than what we have got – but Accrington are at an advantage as we do have top amateurs like Graham Lloyd and David Ormerod.
"This is only something I have been thinking about and it is just something to debate.
"The Lancashire League has obviously been here for more than a hundred years but times are changing.
"Whereas we all love playing cricket it perhaps doesn’t have the prestige it had years ago, we don’t get the crowds and a lot of professionals can’t come for the full season with all the other distractions and so perhaps it is time to look at other options."
Hayhurst also had ideas on other aspects of the local game.
He is keen to develop younger players and said: "Perhaps a one-day international format would be good where each bowler gets 10 overs which would allow the younger players to develop.
"I know I could let Dibber (Ormerod) bowl 25 overs, me a couple and the pro the rest but then I don’t think you are giving the younger players a fair crack.
"They might be in the team, never bat if they are in the lower order and then just field.
"I think it would lead to more amateur participation.
"I am also a huge fan of the Twenty20 competition and think we should perhaps extend this and have more games perhaps on the league reserve dates, as these are also money spinners for the club.
"As I have said, these are just my ideas."
But, while Hayhurst may be thinking about different formats, he won’t be too worried at the moment as his side returned to the top of the Lancashire League with victory over East Lancs on Sunday.
Lloyd showed his influence with an unbeaten 71 as they chased 160 from 34 overs in a rain-affected Sunday.
Opener Stuart Crabtree also chipped in with 54 as they chalked up a seven wicket win.
"It was a good result for us to beat what is a decent East Lancs side with relative ease," continued the skipper.
"The pro really didn’t have much to do which shows the strength of the amateurs and we are playing with confidence at the moment.
"The league table looks good for us although it is really close while we are still hopeful in the Twenty20.
"Although we have won one and lost one we still have top of the table Church and Enfield to play so it’s open for us."
Enfield bounced back from their Worsley Cup semi-final loss on Saturday to overcome bottom club Rishton on Sunday, who are still hunting for a league win and have lost professional Cameron Delport.
Enfield pro Werner Coetsee took 6-29 as they bowed Rishton out for 110. Scott Greaves and Abdul Biswoodall top scored with 33 each.
Enfield had a revised target of 81 due to the weather and Asif Fazal gave them a good start of 46 in their eight-wicket victory.
Church were facing Haslingden again after their Worsley Cup clash but rain ended that contest.
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