Cricket league planning ‘meaningful’ campaign

Shropshire County Cricket League chiefs have underlined their ambition to have a ‘meaningful’ 2021 season by revealing the league structure.

And the plans, drawn up by the county league’s structure sub-committee last week, were given the green light by the full committee yesterday.

Those plans include a return of the usual pyramid structure, from Premier Division and Divisions One to Seven.

The league will also include its two Sunday divisions.

All plans are subject to future Covid-19 government restrictions.

Last season began late due to the pandemic’s outbreak in the spring, and when action did finally resume, divisions were split geographically and a shorter campaign was played out.

But, for the 2021 season, league organisers were determined to reintroduce promotion and relegation to the divisions to ensure a competitive element.

The 12-team Premier Division will consist of the same dozen sides that featured in last season’s split Mike Robinson and Clive Smith groups. The plan is for a regular 22-match season this year.

Premier Division to Division Four play 22-game seasons, Division Five and Six and Sunday Division One play 20 fixtures. Division Seven play 18 matches and Sunday Division Two play 19.

The selected date for the Premier Division to start is April 17. All other divisions will get under way a week later.

Formats are still being debated, but it is anticipated a regular half win-lose and half win, lose or draw format for the top two tiers.

The top flight will finish on September 11 with other divisions completing the following week. Premier Division winners will then compete with counterparts from the Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire county leagues in the play-offs for promotion to the Birmingham League.

Top two in the four-team play-offs – after a round robin – are promoted.

“We’re planning for a normal season, to be honest, that’s the plan,” said vice-chairman Jamie Dowley, who helped design the structure with the league’s chairman, secretary and treasurer, who meet regularly on Zoom.

“Obviously it’s up in the air to an extent and we can change plans at a later date if need be.

“But I don’t think we’ll be going down the regional route like we did last year, that would be a last resort.

“Say we lost four or five weeks at the start of the season, we could cancel those games but still have a meaningful season with promotions and relegations back again.

“We don’t want to have another year without that.”

A couple of second teams have withdrawn from the league for the coming season.

Wellington and Worfield’s second XI are in Division One for the coming campaign while other second and third teams play further down the pyramid.

League bosses plan to incorporate the senior hundred, an updated cup competition based on ECB’s The Hundred format, which will feature clubs from the top two divisions, with the final played at Worfield.

Dowley said: “Obviously public health will always take priority but fingers crossed we are really hopeful of being able to hold a full season.

“Last year worked OK where we had the shortened season but it’s nowhere near like having a promotion season with promotion and relegation, that’s what we want to get back to.”

There has been considerable recruitment across a number of clubs in the county league, though there remains a question mark on overseas players and how that would work within quarantine guidelines.

Birmingham League officials are understood to be keen on meaningful cricket for the 2020 season, meaning promotions and relegations are part of the season.

It is expected that sanitisation breaks will remain for the upcoming season.

The ability to host cricket teas appears doubtful, though committee members are playing a waiting game.

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News