Statement from Fixtures secretary

History

Following the formation of the Southern League (SL) in 1969, a general inquiry in 1970 initiated by Noel Fisher showed a widespread interest among clubs tired of the surfeit of draws in ‘friendly’ cricket and looking for a competitive edge with rewards, in the form of promotion, for success.

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Due to receiving a number of enquiries from clubs (some abusive) regarding the working party’s proposal of 10 team divisions, the Hampshire Cricket League Management Committee felt it should explain their stance and make it easier for clubs to understand all the details before the AGM on 15th February.  By doing this it should save time at the AGM.

Below is a statement from the Hampshire Cricket League fixture secretary Stewart Frazier, who wishes it to be read out before voting takes place on the proposal to reduce every division to ten teams at the HCL AGM.

I have repeatedly told the working party who are proposing a change to divisions of 10 teams throughout the League that it would not work. This is because a reduction of 18 rows to 10 rows on my matrix would destroy any scope to maintain the many complex ground sharing arrangements. The process of determining promotions and relegations would also prove to be totally chaotic.

For over 30 years my system has also coped extremely well with the hundreds of ground problem dates notified by many clubs. For example, Bournemouth and St Cross are annually unable to host any matches for their four teams on certain dates due to alternative events. A number of other clubs with two teams also regularly encounter the same situation. My system has never once failed to find a solution, however the condensed and restrictive nature of the proposed structure would make it impossible for many of these ground problems to be accommodated.

As a result of the proposed structure, many clubs which had asked for away matches on certain dates would find that they were expected, either to find an alternative ground or, failing that, to have the fixture rendered null and void or even to fulfil it on a Sunday, which our rules clearly prohibit. I have no doubt that our clubs will find all of these suggestions ridiculous, especially as in reality there are far more of these instances than the proposers realise. They are saying, in effect, that it wouldn’t matter if a number of fixtures were lost if that meant less travelling for all teams.

If the main purpose of this proposal is to reduce travelling for our clubs, then I can tell you that Andy Stevenson, who diligently formulates the structure every year, has examined the suggested composition of the new divisions of 10, and has concluded that little or no difference would be made to the amount of travelling required, indeed for some clubs it would increase.

There would, of course, also be the problem of the dearth of available pitches in September owing to the intervention of football or rugby. If every club had its own ground, which was available on every date during the season, then this structure might have a chance, however that is clearly not the case and never will be.

This crusade for change is being led by a handful of people who, for reasons known only to themselves, appear to be desperate for their plans to be realised. The procedure which they are advocating is dependent on an automatic computer programme which completely lacks the flexibility of my simple manual system, which is monitored and amended almost on a daily basis throughout each Autumn. The fact that this programme is operable only via the Play Cricket website should also raise concerns as to the true motivation behind this proposal.

I would sincerely hope that all of those club members who have been satisfied with the work done by Andy and myself over many years will reject this project for the reasons given.

Kind regards

Stewart

Further disadvantages are:

If a team does withdraw pre-season or during the season in a 10 team division, two fixtures would be lost each time.

As teams are promoted or relegated, moving to another division, travelling would probably increase. As yet the Management Committee have not received a complete working copy showing a full season’s fixtures.

At no time have the proposers or the working party produced a final workable format example which shows all of the completed fixtures. Quite a few fixtures could not be processed.

HCL Management Committee