By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CLUBS in the Bradleys East Devon Youth League are poised to introduce radical changes to the competition’s structure at next week’s annual meeting.
League officials have been concerned for some time that the youth cricket landscape has changed, but the competition has largely stood still.
Previously, competitive hardball cricket was available for players in the under-10 to under-15 age range, but not above and below.
Dick Holifield, the league’s acting chairman, said rather than sit idly by the executive launched a consultation process with clubs to see what they wanted.
“Our aim as the league management committee was to provide a sustainable and attractive structure which is fit for the growth in player numbers from the All Stars programme and younger ages,” said Holifield.
Holifield said the consultation process led to discussion documents the meetings with the clubs to discuss new ways ahead.
The main points agreed by club and league officials are:
The league format will be replaced by general cricket across a longer time span from May to September. There will be no published league tables
The cup competition will be maintained and a shield competition introduced for sides losing in the first round
Sunday cricket will be promoted and scheduled at the fixtures meeting on January 15. These Sunday games shall be open age games for like-minded clubs to play to a format that suits the ambition and capability of the players
Holifield said the traditional marrying of youth cricket to school terms is no longer the best way to offer cricket to teenagers.
“The compressed, 12-week junior season is stressful and challenges clubs and facilities as well as leaving a void during the later summer for many children,” he said.
Although the changes may seem dramatic at first glance, the concept of ‘friendly leagues’ has been common currency in youth football for more than 10 years.
Holifield is confident the consultation process has eliminated any ‘devil in the details’ that could prevent the changes being adopted at the annual meeting.
“The feedback from clubs was extensive and illuminating,” said Holifield.
“Following the feedback two group meetings were held at Exeter CC, following which clubs voted on a variety of changes to the structure and regulations.
“These changes will be presented at the annual meeting for adoption into 2020.”
The proposed 2020 rules for the Bradleys East Devon Youth League can be viewed by clicking this link.
Holifield and the executive are still looking for a new treasurer and a new secretary to replace Charlie Dibble and long-time league supporter Richard Lappas, both of whom have retired.
“We are indebted to Charlie and Richard for their service,” said Holifield, who can be contacted here by any potential secretaries or treasurers.