Clubs vote for restructure of league and cup competitions
The North West Cricket Union has voted to accept the proposals put forward by its Review Committee following a meeting of club delegates on Thursday night.
Requiring a two-thirds majority, the proposals, presented en bloc, were passed by 20 votes to 8.
The result means a restructuring of the Long’s SuperValu Senior leagues with nine teams in this year’s Premier Division becoming ten in 2021. The 10-team league will be unable to facilitate replays – the first time in many years that there will be no ‘second bite’ for games wiped out by the weather.
Six teams will contest the Championship this year and one of them will automatically be promoted to the top flight as league winners. There will also be a chance for the runners-up to join the big boys as well – whoever finishes second in the title race will get a play-off against the bottom team in the Premiership for that 10th place.
Start times are also moving with all senior matches now getting under way at 12 noon from the start of the season. The Review document had proposed starting Premier Division games at 11am, however both the Union committee and the delegates agreed that it would be more beneficial to keep start times consistent at 12 for both leagues.
Other changes include a seeded draw in the senior cup; the first of which will be made this coming Monday morning on BBC Radio Foyle. The top eight teams based on finishing positions at the end of last season will be seeded and drawn against the other eight unseeded teams. Those include Qualifying 1 team The Nedd who have agreed to make up the 16th team.
From 2021, all games in the North West will be played in clubs’ coloured kit, ending more than a century of ‘red ball’ cricket. From 2020 on there will also be a new T20 Competition for teams in the Qualifying Leagues.
Speaking after the vote, Union Chairman, Brian Dougherty thanked all who had committed to the overhaul.
“We’ve been aware for a while that changes were required to try to sustain and grow the number of people playing cricket” he began.
“An awful lot of work is continuing right across the board and we now have more resources being directed towards school and youth cricket than ever before.
“It isn’t enough to simply create more players however; we have to ensure our club structure is as strong as it can be to accommodate those coming through.
This review will give us a chance to examine ways of strengthening our structure. It is very much a work in progress and I have guaranteed clubs tonight that we will monitor these changes very closely.”
“We won’t be afraid to move quickly to change anything we need to. That is already evident tonight when we changed plans to start Premiership games at 11am at the request of a substantial number of clubs.”
“This review sets out to work with clubs to try to better promote our sport at all levels. We are also currently working on aspects of youth, women’s, midweek and disability cricket and the North West Cricket Union Board will continue to monitor progress very closely over the coming months.”