As I write, after a few dodgy days of weather, the sun seems to have returned, and the absence of cricket is felt more deeply again.  
 
Since my last blog, I have participated in another Premier League chairmens’ video-conference about the current situation. I can report that whilst ECB clearly want to see recreational cricket played this summer, but whilst planning is ongoing on preparation for play, there is as yet not even any provisional date for this to happen. The current suspension of recreational cricket will not be lifted until it can be done in line with government guidance. I can, as I have said before, only keep people informed on the current state of discussions, and ensure that we in the YSPL are as prepared as we can be when the time comes. 
 
There has, however, been continued progress in our talks on a merger with the South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League. The SYSCL committee is having a further meeting this week, after which we hope to be able to issue a consultation paper, with detailed proposals, to all clubs in both leagues. I will ensure that this paper is posted on our website. Clubs will have until 3 July to respond to the paper. 
 
In the meanwhile, our secretary has set up a short poll to seek players’ views on the principle of the merger. At present, from over 100 responses, approximately half our players are in favour, with 30% having no view, and 20% against. A number of very interesting comments have been made in the free text box, and we will analyse these and summarise them in due course. There are some very useful and valid suggestions for us to consider as we go forward, and we will do that. Inevitably, however, we will not be able to take them all on board - if only because some are contradictory and some would contravene our agreement with the Premier Leagues Management Board. 
 
One issue that I think is worthy of mention is the suggestion that all playing conditions are aligned. We must be mindful that in bringing the leagues together, we bring the very highest level of recreational cricket into the same structure as those for whom the game is simply about turning up on Saturday lunchtime, rolling the pitch, playing a game, and going for a drink. Cricket at all levels is equally competitive and important to the players, but the playing conditions for the Premier league (50-overs a side games with fielding restrictions, leg-side wides, bonus points, complex calculations for reducing overs when playing time is lost, computerised scoring, live scores and the DLS method for determining results), would represent an unnecessary and unrealistic level of complexity for divisions seven or eight, for example. 
 
The ECB is keen that leagues look at their structures, and vary the playing conditions to suit the standard at which the game is played. It is all about participation, and if the majority of players at a particular level want a shorter, simple win/lose game, then that is what they should have. The enjoyment of the players is the most important issue, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not facilitate this; we need retain flexibility in playing conditions to suit the different standards across the spectrum of the league, as happens now. 
 
The week before last, we had a league committee meeting. The main topics of discussion were the return to cricket and the merger. On the former, we were agreed that the most likely scenario is that when and if we get a prospective date for full cricket to resume, we will organise t20 and/or t40 competitions, probably with zonal group structures, to provide as much competitive cricket as reasonably possible in the time available. But before this is finalized, we will consult with our clubs to check that they are in a position to compete, and to ascertain whether their preference is t20 or t40. 
 
This afternoon, I attended the funeral of a local cricketer with whom I had many dealings over my first 28 years in league cricket. Trevor Dukes opened the batting for Kirk Ella’s first XI from the mid-1960s for over 30 seasons, captained the side for several years, and was a long-serving member of the old Humber Don league committee, which he chaired for five years. After illness enforced his playing retirement when in his sixties, he ran the clubhouse bar from his wheelchair. I must have umpired him on well over one hundred occasions, and served with him at committee level for 16 years. Trevor was an opening batsman with infinite concentration and determination, who only ever played three or four shots, but played them well, and was very hard to get out. He could be cantankerous, but his heart and soul was in his club, his league and cicket in general, and he spared no effort on their behalf. The current club chairman gave a eulogy that summed him up perfectly – he was a real character and one of a dying breed. A summary of his life by the officiant revealed more about him than I had ever known, and I reflected once again that it is such a pity that we often learn most about people after they are no longer with us. 
 
Till next time, 
 
Roger 
 
 
Photo: Sunset over Barnsley (courtesy of Mrs Susan Dodd) 
 
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