Chorley Building Society

Northern League
Reader Cricket Balls

3D Sports

Secretary's Report for Season 2005

This season the ECB reduced the League's status from a full Premier League to an Approved Premier League, which meant that we are still linked to the Premier League organisation but do not receive any funding from the ECB. We meet all the criteria for Premier League status apart from not having a feeder league structure. It is frustrating that the Yorkshire League who have no feeder league structure and like us have not been able to develop one remain a full Premier League. The League remains willing to consider any initiatives to build a pyramid of leagues. Our status for the 2006 season has still to be confirmed.

The League took advantage of the change in Premier League criteria to reduce the game to the 100 over format with a 1-30 p.m. start instead of 1-00 p.m. with the game finishing around 8 p.m. Players commented that having got used to 1 p.m. starts they would prefer to finish earlier than start later. This change was passed at the AGM. The AGM also passed a proposition that simplifies the playing conditions for 2006. Each side will now have fifty overs each but any overs not bowled in the first innings are added on to the second innings. (See inside front cover and the full rules) The League has also decided to revert to a Knock Out for the cup competition. The League Cup which was instigated to guarantee all clubs more Sunday games caused some fixture difficulties and some clubs once they had no chance of progressing found motivation a problem. Thwaites will continue their sponsorship of the new competition.

Having accepted Barrow into the League, two seasons have been played with thirteen clubs. Barrow has had a competitive second season in the League, finishing half way up the League and has been a successful addition. Playing with thirteen clubs with two blank weekends has proved frustrating. (Though Leyland Motors used a weekend off to play cricket in Malta!) After much debate and consideration leading to a vote of nine votes to four in favour Carnforth have been accepted into the League for the 2006 season.

Carnforth are a well-established club with good facilities and financial security and sit neatly in the middle of the area covered by the League. They were keen to change leagues to improve the standard of their cricket and eliminate some of the longer journeys into Cumbria. Carnforth should attract better players and though they could struggle initially, they should be competitive with the weaker clubs in the League. We hope it proves to be a positive move for the development of cricket in the Carnforth area. It is hoped that accepting Carnforth will encourage other clubs in the area covered by the League to apply so that we can achieve the aim of forming two divisions with promotion and relegation.

St Annes became League Champions with Netherfield runners up for the second season in succession. The batting, bowling and experience of Ian Austin as Captain brought more consistent performances from the team and in the professional Shane Harwood of Victoria they had a bowler with the extra pace and hostility that has not been seen in the League for a few seasons. A new and very testing experience for the many younger batsmen in the League and he was perhaps the factor that gave St Annes the edge over the other contenders for the title. Blackpool beat Fleetwood at Stanley Park to win the Thwaites Smooth Beer Northern League Cup. Netherfield won the League 20/20 competition and went on to represent the League in the Thwaites Inter-League competition. Kendal beat Barrow to win the Cumbria Cup and Fleetwood and Netherfield were losing semi-finalists in the Lancashire Cup. The Fair Play Award based on the marking of umpires in all league and cup games was won by Barrow.

In the Second Division the top of the first division was repeated in the League with St Annes as champions and Netherfield as runners up. Their domination of the division was confirmed as the same pairing were the winners and runners up in the League Cup competition. Chorley and Kendal won the Fair Play awards for the Second Division.

Rawcliffes Intersport who sponsored the League individual awards for amateurs for a number of years have been taken over and consequently the sponsorship ceased. No replacement sponsor has been found and the League is extremely grateful to Norman Poole who has funded the awards for this season. The League is grateful to the Blackpool Gazette who were influential in instigating the awards and continue to publish their progress each week. We are pleased that Castle Financial and Mortgage Services have agreed to sponsor the awards for next season. Terry Hunte (Kendal) won the batting, Kevin Howarth (Kendal) the bowling, Neil Cordingley (Darwen) and Phil Dennison (Morecambe) the most catches. Duncan Whalley (St Annes) had the most wicket-keeping victims and was awarded the Malcolm Beaty trophy. David Duckworth was the leading umpire for the second season running. The leading professionals were Pierre de Bruyn (Netherfield) who scored 1189 runs at an average of 69.94, including two centuries. Shane Harwood (St Annes) took 100 wickets at an average of 7.22 and included an analysis of 9 for 22.

Though the League because of the distances involved does not run its own junior leagues all clubs have active junior sections with teams entered in local junior leagues. It is pleasing to note the number of young players who have risen through the club ranks and are now performing successfully in club 1st Xls some progressing into representative cricket. If this development is maintained then standards will surely rise. A full account of the successes of the junior players in the league is elsewhere in the handbook but it is pleasing to note that some young players are making steps into highest levels of the game. Steven Croft of Blackpool starts his second season with Lancashire and Tom Smith of Chorley joins him for the 2006 season after very successful performances with England U/19s. James Anyon of Preston starts his second season on the Warwickshire staff.

A number of clubs have had an improvement in their facilities through grants from the ECB etc.. These contributions are much appreciated but the finance required by a club to maintain cricket at this level is high and many clubs struggle to keep afloat. This probably is the most fundamental problem affecting recreational cricket and hence the development of young cricketers. Even more finance needs directing into the grass roots of the game!

We are lucky that the local press and radio take such an interest in local cricket. We thank them for the exposure they give . It maintains interest in the clubs by the community and attracts support and young people into the game. The Web site is increasingly becoming a major means of communication for the League. We are particularly grateful to John Kettlestring, the web master and Chris Banting who run the site and to Gerry Wolstenholme whose writing not only on the site, but in club programmes and other publications adds to the reputation of the League

Once again we have to thank the many people involved in keeping the game alive at the recreational level. Whether it is raising finance, working on grounds and facilities, coaching, catering or contributing in any way, the future of cricket depends on you. We can all take satisfaction from watching a good game of cricket and seeing young people developing and demonstrating their skills.

John Cooper

   Click Here to send your comments.