Changes to cricket leagues structure proposed to boost the Sussex scene

JPCT 050914 S14381096x Cricket  Roffey v Cuckfield.  Rivers batting for Roffey,   -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140909-115521001
JPCT 050914 S14381096x Cricket Roffey v Cuckfield. Rivers batting for Roffey, -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140909-115521001

Major changes have been proposed to league structures in a big shake-up to boost cricket across Sussex.

The Sussex Cricket Board’s Adult Leagues Group have produced a number of options that could be rolled out across the county as early as the 2015/16 season.

These changes will effect all four leagues – from the Sussex Cricket League to the West Sussex Invitation League and East and Mid Sussex leagues.

Proposed changes are to reflect new demands on society and the sport found as a result of ECB’s National Club Strategy last year and the 2014 National Cricket Playing Survey.

The latter saw 1,603 respondents from Sussex, of which over 700 were players currently representing teams in the four adult leagues.

The changes suggested are in hope of bringing more people into the game, retaining current players and allowing all clubs to gain access to the top of the pyramid, which the Mid Sussex Cricket League currently do not have.

Further points are to address long travel in the lower leagues and the issue of an increased demand for the shorter formats of the game.

SCB head of cricket development Tim Shutt said: “The two fundamental points of things are a) to allow the best players to play against the best players and progress up the league and b) the fact that we want to retain players in the game.

“Unfortunately, cricket is in a slight decline at all levels, but as is any sport at the moment, even football. In Sussex, however, we aren’t actually doing that bad.

“The main Sussex Cricket League now has two feeder leagues from the East and West which has been part of the long-term plan. There never used to be a feeder league and before it was a case of being invited as it was a closed shop, so there is already progress there.

“It’s about doing the best thing for cricket across Sussex and what’s best for the future of our sport.”

There are three proposed options that the board are looking at going forwards.

The first is to allow three feeder leagues into the SCL, but with no impact on the 2nd XI divisions. It would mean one just three top divisions with Division 3 consisting of 19 teams.

Another possibility is to allow three feeder leagues into a restructured SCL with a mixed 1st and 2nd league, with the lower 2nd XIs joining the feeder leagues.

The two top leagues in the SCL would operate as senior divisions with just 1st XI sides.

Finally, there is scope to integrate the Mid Sussex League into a regionalised feeder structure and restructure the SCL.

This follows the same idea as the previous options, but allows Mid Sussex teams that wish to progress to join regionalised divisions in the East or West leagues.

To gauge the reaction to the plans, all club’s and players are being asked to take a short survey on their views. To take part, visit: www.sussexcricket.co.uk/senior-leagues.htm