Bolton Association cricket league introduces new fixture format
THE Bolton Association will introduce a radical new format next season and look to go to two divisions the following year.
Teams play 22 league matches, compared to 26 at present, and the league believes it will ensure every team has something to play right up to the end of the season.
The local cricket league will have four more teams next year, bringing their total up to 18.
They will all be in one division, with every team playing each other only once in the league, all but one of the games on Saturdays.
At the end of these 17 games the league will split into three sections of six teams.
Each team in each section will play each other once and the the points they gain from those five games will be added to those gained from their 17 previous matches.
The top three in each section will play three of the end-of-season games at home and two away, with the reverse for the bottom three.
The top six section will compete for the title and Lancashire Knockout places.
If the Association decides to go to two divisions in 2015 – which looks likely – the middle six will compete for who stays in the Premier Division and who plays in Division One, and the bottom six will play in their own end-of-season competition and drop into Division One.
The number of clubs who go down to the new Division One from the middle section will depend on the divisional split that the league committee decide on.
If they decide on a Premier Division of 10 and an eight-strong Division One - for which the league has already discussed a format - the top four in the middle section would go into the Premier Division and the bottom two into Division One.
If it is to be two divisions of nine, the top three in the middle section would go into the Premier Division and the bottom three into Division One.
Apart from one league game, Sundays will be reserved for Cross Cup, inter-league competitions and Lancashire Knockout games.
It gives clubs the chance of having more free dates on Sundays from next season, although there will be a new 40-over voluntary competition brought in for clubs to play in on these dates if they so wish.
There will be no alteration to the format of the Cross Cup, believed to be the oldest continuously played-for cricket knockout competition in the world, originating in 1889.
It will have a preliminary round of four clubs before the other 14 clubs come in at the first-round stage.
The Association have discussed a suggested format for a two-division league in 2015.
It involves 10 clubs in the Premier Division and eight in Division One.
Under the plans, Premier Division clubs would play each other twice and then split into two sections of a top six and bottom four.
Teams in each section would all play each other once and the points gained added to those accrued from the previous 18 matches.
The top three in section A would play three games at home and two away, with the bottom three in reverse.
The top two in section B would play two games at home and one away, with the bottom two in reverse.
Section A would decide the league champions and Lancashire KO places and all six would play the following season in the Premier Division.
Section B would decide who plays in the Premier Division and who plays in the First Division the following season, with the number to be relegated possibly being two but is still to be decided.
The First Division would be a straight league format with the eight clubs playing each other three times, with the top teams – possibly two but still to be decided – winning promotion.