Chorley Building Society

Northern League
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3D Sports

Secretary's Report for Season 2009

The season reached an exciting climax and the weather relented sufficiently for all the competitions to be completed on time. St. Annes won their third Division One championship in the last five years by virtue of a thrilling victory over Darwen on the final Saturday of the season, leaving Preston as gallant runners-up.

Lancaster were deserved winners of Division Two and runners-up Leyland made up for their disappointment on losing out on the title by lifting the Division Two Cup.

The Division One Cup Final proved to be a local derby as Netherfield defeated Kendal at Parkside Road in the final game of the season. A few weeks earlier Netherfield had also played host to the increasingly popular Twenty20 Finals Day, which was won by Preston.

Two statistics highlight the competitiveness of the League. On Saturday 13 June, Carnforth, then in bottom place, went to top-of-the-table Chorley and won an exciting game by eight runs while on the same day Fleetwood, last season's wooden spoonists, defeated reigning champions Netherfield by 13 runs. Secondly, the Twenty20 Finals Day involved four different clubs to those which participated in 2008.

Rain and wet grounds again caused problems at all levels and groundsmen and their helpers are to be commended for their unstinting efforts in maintaining grounds and pitches fit for play and practice. A combined total of 52 games in Division One and Two were abandoned compared to 54 in 2008, 50 in 2007 and 57 in 2006.

Though some clubs have benefited from investment in facilities funded by the ECB, there has been little recognition of the costs that clubs incur in developing youth cricket. Recreational cricket is dependent upon the fundraising capacity of the clubs and the decline of cricket in schools, where the development of young cricketers was subsidised by the education system, has resulted in clubs developing youth sections.

All our member clubs have flourishing junior sections and many club officials freely give many hours of their time and expertise to ensure that the next generation of cricketers are developed.

One of the most gratifying things of being involved in the League is not only seeing the willingness of clubs to give young cricketers an opportunity in Division One and Division Two League games, but also give them the opportunity to participate fully in the games. Most of the member clubs had young players in the top order of the batting or bowling and the League is still viewed as one that is an excellent breeding ground for young players.

Two of our players, Darwen's Alex Davies and Barrow's Liam Livingstone were selected for England at Under-15s and Under-16s age groups respectively and the League congratulates these fine young players on their achievements whilst also acknowledging that many young players also earned County selection at different age groups.

In the present economic conditions, the League was grateful to have such excellent sponsors as Furness Building Society and 3D Sports, whose Readers cricket balls were used in all League and Cup matches. Both companies will continue to sponsor the League during 2010 and we are extremely grateful to them for their support and the interest that they show in our competitions. Matthew Castle of Castle Financial & Mortgage Services again kindly sponsored the Amateur Awards.

Alan Bolton kindly agreed to act as an assessor in the new method of assessing Umpires.
The assessment procedure, when operating properly and with the full co-operation of the captains is an effective method of ensuring that higher standards of umpiring are achieved whilst reducing the number of incidents that spoil the pleasure of umpires, players and spectators. It was gratifying that there were only a handful of minor disciplinary problems throughout the season and that most of these were dealt with effectively by the clubs themselves without recourse to the League's disciplinary procedures. The Executive are committed to ensuring that the League maintains its fine reputation for sportsmanship and adhering to the Spirit of Cricket.

The main League web site on the ECB's play-cricket.com system again proved an effective means of communication and the number of "hits" reached new record levels. The web site has developed over the years and contains a powerful statistics and administration. Mike Latham again operated this web site and received fine support from Ian Farrington, who input the Division Two score cards. Many of the problems in clubs providing accurate score cards have been eradicated and the clubs are to be congratulated on their efforts in this regard.

John Kettlestring continued to maintain the League's archive web site which provides a fantastic resource for current and former players, officials and supporters. The League is proud to have one of the finest archive web sites of any cricket league in the country and it is thanks to John’s continuing dedication and enthusiasm that this web site grows from strength to strength.

The League has been saddened by the news of deaths of several club officials and former players and their passing reminds us all of the contributions made by many people who work for their clubs in a variety of ways. Without them, cricket would simply not be played. Being involved in a club is not an easy task and changes in regulations do not make it any easier. Often the efforts of many volunteers go apparently unnoticed but the League acknowledges everyone who assists in the myriad of tasks that are required to maintain a cricket club and its standards.

The League is grateful for the support and coverage from the local media with particular mention to the Lancashire Evening Post, the Blackpool Gazette, the Westmorland Gazette, the Barrow Evening Mail, the Chorley and Leyland Guardian, the Lancaster Guardian and the Blackburn Evening Telegraph. Our thanks go to all the reporters for their interest and enthusiasm and to the sports editors for giving the League such prominence throughout the season. The efforts of BBC Radio Cumbria to provide match reports were also sincerely welcomed by many followers of the League.

In 2010 the Lancashire Academy side will participate in the League for the first time, playing each of the other member clubs once away from home. The League was approached by Mike Watkinson, the cricket director at Old Trafford and after negotiations went well, the introduction of the Lancashire Academy side was approved by the member clubs. This exciting development further enhances the reputation of the League.

Finally, I am happy to report that we are in the process of arranging a game between a League Youth Xl (Under 21 or Under 19) and the MCC for the season 2011.

John Cooper

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