RAY TAYLOR: Committee are always trying to develop a stronger and better Bolton League

Ray Taylor begins his fortnightly series of summer columns on the Bolton League

Ray Taylor begins his fortnightly series of summer columns on the Bolton League

First published in Sport
Last updated

At the 2013 annual general meeting the Bolton League clubs voted to elect a management committee comprising four League officials, four other members elected from the member clubs plus umpires’ and junior representatives.

The remit for the management committee was the day-to-day running of the league and its development.

The only genuine “premier” league in Lancashire is the Liverpool Competition, however the Bolton League, Central Lancashire League and Lancashire League have “semi-premier” status, and the Bolton League are looking to develop plans to ensure the 14 clubs remain vibrant, strong and sustainable in what are difficult times for local cricket clubs.

Although the management committee have no plans to expand the league in the near future, members of the committee are working with other leagues in the county, and in particular Greater Manchester, as discussions continue about the options to join a wider league structure.

However any such changes would require the support of at least 10 Bolton League clubs, although individual clubs will always be free to join other leagues if they feel it would be to their benefit.

Towards the end of June the management committee will be putting a detailed proposal to clubs about the types of cricket to be played from 2015.

When I first started watching cricket in the early 1970s, there was a match every Saturday and between one and four on Sundays, depending on what stage your team was knocked out of the Hamer or Birtwistle Cups.

In recent years, players at the more successful clubs who have enjoyed success in the Lancashire KO and Hamer Cup, have found they are playing every Saturday and Sunday for 22 weeks, with the occasional mid-week match thrown in if we have a wet summer.

A more flexible approach would be to reduce the number of matches with teams playing each other just once in the first and second team league programmes.

This competition would determine the league champions and in the first team the Lancashire KO places.

There would be a further competition of 40 overs per side where the league would be divided into two leagues of seven, with two teams promoted and relegated each season.

Should clubs not wish to reduce the number of matches other formats could still be considered.

The Dixon Air Conditioning t20 competition, leading to qualification for the national stages, and hopefully an appearance on Sky TV, would be extended from a KO to two groups of seven providing two finalists.

A reduction in the overall number of matches, with players, particularly those in second teams only required to play one match a weekend, could encourage them to stay in the game for longer.

Players leaving cricket in their late teens and late 20s is a massive problem nationally, and although the effects locally have not been too significant, possibly due to the shorter travelling distances, it is something local administrators need to be aware of.

Player retention is also something the management committee are considering at junior level.

The core age groups would continue to be under-13s and under-15s, with under-9s and under-11s playing a less competitive form of the game.

Under-18s would become optional with teams allowed to play a limited number of over age players and consideration would be given in the future to some of these matches to be played on a Sunday, possibly along with clubs from another league.

The league programme from May 10 was an almost complete washout, and as all the matches that started were abandoned without a result, the games will be replayed on September 7.

In previous years attempts to replay matches have not been successful so this year two reserve dates were built into the fixtures.

The downside of this is having to start the season a week earlier than would be ideal.

All the clubs’ external knockout matches on May 11 were cancelled as well leaving some games having to be played mid-week, a problem noted earlier in the article.

One club who have progressed in the Lancs KO, however, are Egerton who successfully defended a score of just 89 the week previous against Leigh from the Liverpool Competition.

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