LOCAL cricket teams will hear next week how the Devon League plans to run a series of mini-leagues to get the sport up and running again after missing the start of the season due to coronavirus lockdown.
Writing on the Devon League website today, cricket report Conrad Sutcliffe said clubs will be told next Monday (July 20) what their fixtures will be in the mini-division programme planned for the cut-down season.
League cricket is scheduled to start on Saturday, July 25 and clubs now know roughly what format it will take. Nick Rogers, the league chairman, released draft plans in a media briefing today (Wednesday).
Teams from the top to the bottom of the league have been ceded based on last season’s final placings then divided mostly into four regional divisions of four teams each to form a tier.
Tier One comprises Premier and some A Division sides but not necessarily in ceding order, Tier Two will probably consist of lower-ranked A Division teams, the majority of the B Division and possibly some sides from the regionalised C Divisions.
Below that teams will be placed as appropriately as possible in ability and geographically relevant divisions.
The four regional winners in each tier – North, South, East and West at the higher levels – will go through to semi-finals to decide who plays in the final, which will be on the ground of one of the finalists. Lower down the tiers there will be micro localisation in division with names such as East-East.
League managers had hoped to publish groups and fixtures earlier this week, but have been obliged put them on hold while glitches are sorted out.
Said Rogers: “We sent out a second survey to clubs at the end of last week asking for more information and what came back has meant changing what we had planned.
“Since adaptive cricket regulations were confirmed after our first survey went out last month, and are not as severe as some clubs feared, we had increased interest in taking part in our competition from nine more teams.
“Nine more teams meant redrawing what we already had in mind – and then there were representations from clubs concerning the level they were at.
“There are some teams who feel they have been placed too high and want to drop down a level, which we have been looking at.
“Rogers said there will be some local variations to accommodate exceptional circumstances, but overall the league knows what the competition will look like.
“When everything is done there will be 33 divisions spread over nine tiers and in most of them there will be four teams playing each other home and away on Saturday afternoons.
“There may be one or two divisions of six clubs who only play five games. I am thinking of the North Devon region where clubs are particularly spread out.
“Clubs with 3rd XIs but only one pitch may wish to play on Sundays and there will be some provision for that.
“At the moment there is no provision for second-placed play-offs, but if teams want that it is something that could be looked at.”
Local clubs are generally supportive of the new arrangements given that there were fears that no cricket would be played this summer.
Tonight (Wednesday) Uplyme continue their pre-season friendlies with a home T20 match against Crewkerne (start 6pm). The Uplyme team includes another new signing – Sam Farrow, a talented batsmen and useful leg spinner who formally played for Axminster.
On Saturday Uplyme welcome Seaton to the King George V playing field for 35-over game (2 pm start).