NEIL BONNAR: All amateur cricket leagues need to live in harmony for wider good of local game

Local cricket has a place close to the hearts of many towns and villages

Local cricket has a place close to the hearts of many towns and villages

First published in Sport
Last updated

LOCAL cricket is in danger of disappearing up its own silly point.

Like many amateur sports cricket is a part of every English town and village’s sporting and social fabric.

But it is more than that. It is a sight to behold, a calming experience, a green and pleasant land.

One of the most idylic sights on a summer’s day is seeing two teams in whites batting, bowling and fielding on a pristine green field under the glaring sun.

It has been around in its present competitive format since the 1880s and would seem to be immune to any potential threats.

Unfortunately that is not the case.

Here in Bolton we have two leagues and two dozen or so clubs, all of which are steeped in tradition.

And there are another five or six leagues in a 20-mile radius.

And therein lies the problem.

All those leagues are in some sort of danger of going out of existence.

With some it is high risk, with others it is small.

Last year one of the leagues, the Manchester Association, folded and others are worried about going the same way. That has bred fear within the leagues, and that fear has bred a battle for each other’s clubs.

Here in Bolton we have had a league take clubs from the Manchester Association – which accelerated the latter’s demise – and we have had existing Bolton clubs express an interest in joining other leagues.

One team will be leaving the Bolton Association next year.

All manner of ideas are being thrown around to increase the appeal of leagues, from going from one to two divisions to adding extra cup competitions.

It’s becoming a mad world.

Clearly something needs to be done and that should begin with someone taking a lead role in managing all the local leagues in one organised structure.

Whether that involves linking them up into a single league system or keeping them separate is by the by.

The Lancashire Cricket Board are in charge of promoting and delivering cricket in the area and they may be the best-placed organisation to take overall control.

The leagues need to be settled down and made to feel confident they will continue to exist, and indeed thrive, well into the future.

Every one of them holds a special place in their town’s hearts and provides invaluable sporting opportunities and experiences for their people.

They should stop battling each other for survival, they have too much to lose.

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