Feb 052014

OPINION by Scoop: Am I the only person who is sitting here incredulous?

No, it’s not the sheer scale of the Kevin Pietersen fallout, but the amazing situation where two local cricket leagues are totally ignoring each other when both are after the same, massive change.

The CLL is looking to expand, in its usual, low-key, ‘We’re still the best league in Lancashire’ fashion. Two divisions of 12 teams, meaning we need eight more.

The Lancashire County League is also looking to expand to two divisions of 12, although they are far more pro-active and far more efficicient than the stone age crew running the CLL.

Now, the CLL has 16 clubs and therefore needs eight more.

The LCL has 14 clubs and wants another 10.

So that’s 18 clubs needed to form two leagues with two divisions of 12 teams.

Where are those 18 clubs going to come from? The Saddleworth League? Bamford (NO)? The Bolton Association? Where?

Now it’s quite obvious I am beating about the bush here, and it’s quite obvious what I am leading to.

It doesn’t take much rethinking, it wouldn’t take much compromising, and it wouldn’t take too much effort.

So do us all a favour, kill two birds with one stone and MERGE!

Get on with it!

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 February 5, 2014  Tagged with:  Add comments

  22 Responses to “OPINION: Come On – The Key Word Is MERGE!”

  1. It would help if the leadership of the Lancashire County League would acknowledge that the CLL are also interested in expanding.You are right.BothManagement Committees need to meet and talk.As long as the outcome for the CLL is not a lowering of standards.

  2. Sounds like we are still being a little precious about our beloved CLL.
    I think it is well recognised by all that the standards are not what they were, borne out by the fact that young players are having to go elsewhere in the quest for perceived progression.
    So let’s be realistic about just where we sit right now, get rid of that holier than thou attitude and open up to ideas of change.

  3. Cash is king folks, cash is king!!

    Merging with the Lanc’s County League or the Lancashire League (my preference) might help but however its floured up, the better players (not all thankfully ………. Crossy) are swayed by the brown envleopes as much as the chance to play ‘better’ cricket.

    Merseyside isn’t some miraculous geographical hotbed of natural cricketing talent. Neither is Bamford or Monton at one point for that matter.

    If all the CLL clubs starting paying players £100 a game, within two season’s, the geoprahical shift would move down the East Lancs and all of a sudden, the best players are in the CLL and thus the best cricket in the North West is played there!

    What the Merseyside clubs do have, are better wickets. Part of this is geogrpahical and naturally caused and not something East Lancashire will ever benefit from.

    Wherever the cash is, the better (purportadly) players will gather, thus raising the standards of that particualr league and the snow ball begins. Pull the funding and its a different matter.

    On paper and to the outside observer, Bamford Fieldhouse have to be classed as one, if not the best team in the North West!! They win their league every year, have reached the final of the Lanc’s Knockout regularly recently and make good progression in the National Knockout!! On paper, there unbelievable!!

    How can such success be created? A natural talent pool 1/2 mile north of Heywood you ask? Er no!! They pay big cash!! Big enough for people to travel over from Mersyside in fact!!

    Whatever happens, one things for sure, wherever the cash is, the players will flock!!

    But folks I’m, a) old school and HCC will always be where i played and enjoyed my cricket and b) I was never good enough to worry about being paid to travel to Liverpool to play so i guess my opinion isn’t as rounded as it might be on the subject !!

  4. What irks me about paying players is that it brings nothing to a club. There’s no decent prize money up for grabs, no promotion up the ranks, no more supporters. Just money in a player’s pocket, taken out of the game.
    From a personal point of view, if it was known that a club was paying amateurs, it would instantly preclude them from applying for and being given any help from any grant bodies out there. If you can spend £Xk a year on players, you can spend £Xk on your facilities. Maybe that should apply to pros, too.
    I can’t and won’t fathom why any club pays any amateur to play for them. Other than vanity projects, such as Bamfordshire.

  5. We’re doing exactly what said paying clubs want to happen! We’re talking about them as being the best in a particualr area!

    Your right though Scoopster, these clubs don’t win anything of any significant amount financially! They win the qudos of others proclaiming them as the best!

    Who doesn’t like being talked about as being the best!!

  6. What do members of these clubs get out of watching players year after year they have no affinity with? I can go to Old Trafford to watch better cricket with players I don’t know.

  7. Sorry to say it but I left after the cash dried up at Crimble, wasnt going to break my back every week in thirds when the money stopped coming in.

  8. Rob, Scott, I have to disagree with you I’m afraid. The playing surfaces and general ground standards set out by the ECB as to what is required by a Premier League team is what makes the ECB leagues that bit better. Add to this the fact that it is timed cricket and a lot more tactical as opposed to limited overs, also makes it more if a challenge – there is always something to play for. What you also fail to see is that the majority of teams don’t pay for overseas ‘professionals’, so, no flights, no accommodation, no car, no big wage.

    When it comes to the paying of players, it most probably comes from individuals on a ‘sponsored scheme’ as opposed to the club funds itself. If a certain individual wishes to sponsor a player, should the club step in? If you’re dad, uncle, grandad, friend, wanted to ‘sponsor’ you £x’s per run/wicket, is it down to the club to tell them that they can’t?

    For the CLL to get back to where it was, a merge must happen, and as you say Rob, with the Lancashire League would be the best option.

  9. There are obvious geographical and meteorological reasons why the pitches in the Liverpool Competition are better,in general,than those in the east of the county.However,when considering the quality of cricket in the two areas,the following factors need to be considered.
    1.The Liverpool Competition has 42 clubs in a ‘pyramid’ system.Inevitably,’the cream will rise to the top.The best will want to play against the best ,leading to high quality,competitive cricket.
    2.If it were possible to research the question of finance,it is likely that it would be discovered that more money is spent on paying cricketers in the east of the county than in the Liverpool Competition and that more money is spent on ground maintenance in the the Liverpool Competition than by clubs in the east of the county.
    3.The type of cricket played in the Liverpool Competition lends itself to the better development of young players.It allows more opportunity for batsmen to spend a long time at the crease and build big totals and for bowlers,especially,spin bowlers,to bowl long spells.
    4.The procedures in place within the Liverpool Competition as a league lead to better development of young cricketers than those procedures in leagues in the east of the county.

  10. My point was that clubs in the proposed ‘better’ leagues pay players! Regardless of whether its a big named pro or not, the clubs, be it individuals or the actual club pay players ………… FACT !!

    However its floured up, whererever the money is, the players will follow!!

    Should the CLL or the Lancashire League for that matter start paying players £££ per game, there would be an influx of ‘better’ players joing the CLL thus raising the standard over a fixed period of time!

    I doth my cap to any indivudual though who drives excessive miles every weekend, pays their own petrol, pays subs etc all in the name of personal development!

    Credit to those that do! Sometimes it takes that level of sacrifice to make it to the very top.

    I suspect though, and i must caveat this with the fact that i don’t have first hand knowledge, but i’d bet my mortgage that most don’t pay there own way, and are in fact paid to play!!

    Cash has now become the fundamental driver in relation to improving and subsequently disintegrating various cricket leagues/teams around the North West!

    The CLL is now a weaker league in relation to the Liverpool Comp, Northern League, Staffs Prem etc. Its a shame but it also a fact that i agree with.

    How and why though? Has their been a generational shift in relation to natural cricket talent being born in the CLL catchment area? Or sadly as i suspect, have other areas/leagues agreed to pay players more and taken talent from outside their natural catchment area?

    Would so many non local players be playing for certain clubs outside of their natural catchment area without the lure of cash in whatever guise?

    I sincerely doubt it!!

    Fundamentally i’d like to see a stronger CLL and in turn a stronger set of clubs within the CLL. With an uneven playing field though in relation to cash distribution for players this will never happen! Its a shame we lose any quality players from the league regardless of the club, it just makes it harder to take when those are lost with cash involved.

  11. Your argument appears to be centred solely around money Rob. You seem to be ignoring other factors including the level of opposition, standard of playing surfaces and facilities on offer. How many county grounds are there in the CLL? How many current county cricketers play in the CLL? How many international players play in the CLL? Granted that with current CLL rules it is almost impossible for this to happen but would you not like to test your ability against the very best given the opportunity?

    If the standard of cricket in the CLL is to improve then a merge has to happen. The format of cricket may have to change with this also and if the ‘new’ league chose to be an open league then that is their choice.

    I very much doubt however, that anyone can genuinely and honestly say that there isn’t or never has been, cash on offer for individuals for playing cricket in the CLL from club members, family members or clubs themselves, Heywood included, to play cricket, be it either per game or performance related? How you wish to perceive the payment is another matter.

  12. Firstly, this isn’t an argument, rather a healthy debate which can only be a good thing in relation to further thinking and potential action around improving local cricket standards.

    My point isn’t specifically that money is a bad thing, more that it is the root cause of the problem we’re talking about – the deteoration of certain leagues and clubs, including the CLL.

    Concentrating solely on the Liverpool Comp isn’t necessary but as a league we can relate to it works for this purpose. I would suggest that the reason the opposition is good, the facilities are good and the surfaces are good is due in the main to money!

    The Liverpool Comp’s top division’s standard is so good because its packed with quality players. A reasonable percentage of these are playing at said clubs because they are being paid! Again and for the sake of clarity, i’m not saying this is bad, i’m saying its a key contributory factor. I also take on board that the league structure in place and organisational bodies are run more proactively than the CLL and thus drive better outcomes for the players/clubs.

    The elphant in the room here is players being paid! I have nothing against it, i’m merely stating, as Dave Fare & Gilly did, that too many people are leaving the CLL because their being offered money elsewhere! This can’t be a good thing for the CLL or the clubs.

    A merger might kick start some kind of revolution in CLL cricket but unless the better players can be prized away from other clubs without the carrot of cash, then i’m not sure progress will be made!

    I also take and acknowledge your point on CLL clubs paying players in the past! Its valid even if hard to prove. What i will say though is look at some of these clubs pre, during and post cash for players!! There was an obvious improvement in those teams once the cash flowed! Once it dried up, rather suprisingly, a lot of ‘non locals’ stop playing at said clubs and the standard drops significantly! Cash in this instance having a negative effect on a club and league.

    In relation to county and International players, the CLL doesn’t permit this and too be fair, i wish they did. I’m not sure we’d get Paul Horton playing down at Heywood though without slipping him something for his services. Again I may be wrong.

    My original point was this – cash has played and still is playing a huge part in deciding where the North West’s better players are playing!!

    The Liverpool Comp, Northern League et al are all better leagues than the CLL, I stated this in an earlier post. To get to this level though cash has and still does play a huge part in this.

    I’m happy to be stood corrected though if all those who have left the league in recent times haven’t been paid for their services in another league!

    Ultimately i hope somehow the standard of CLL cricket does improve. The two divisions seems to be working to some extent, at least in the top division, and maybe as you say a new way of thinking might need to happen. If opening the league up to paying players works in relation to improving the standard then so be it.

    I’d much rather see you, Ross, Tom etc playing for Heywood though against other sides packed with talent as opposed to losing you guys to other leagues! My concern is that without cash it might be an impossible dream which is a shame for local cricket fans! You guys made the right decision to better yourselves and everyone should respect that. Its a shame though that the CLL isn’t a good enough league to keep you guys.

    Here’s to hoping a viable solution can be found that works for all !!

    Good debate!

  13. Well Scoop you certainly started a debate with your website posting dated 5th February headed “OPINION: Come On – The Key Word Is MERGE!”
    I’ve read both leagues announcements and for the benefit of those who have not copied them below.

    The Central Lancashire League website announcement states:
    The League has decided to increase its membership of clubs in 2015 by the addition of up to eight suitable clubs to a maximum total of twenty four clubs in two divisions. Any interested club should apply by letter signed by the club Secretary or Chairman to the League Secretary at 19 Green Drive, Penwortham, Preston PR1 0RD by 17 February 2014.

    The Lancashire County League website announcement states:
    The Lancashire County League is endeavouring to expand from its current single league 14 club structure into a league of two divisions from 2015 season, with the ultimate aim of becoming an ECB Premier League. The League is a well managed and forward thinking league and we are therefore inviting those clubs who share our ambition and vision to express their interest in joining the league from 2015 season.
    The next step for any interested club is to ensure your club complies with our Criteria for Member Clubs, a copy of which is available here. If you feel you have what it takes, then please submit your expression of interest to the Leagues Development Sub Committee by email to lcldevsub@outlook.com by Saturday 1st March 2014.

    Firstly a couple of questions need to be answered:
    Will expanding both the Central Lancashire League and the the Lancashire County League to two divisions each of twelve clubs be the answer?
    Is it practical i.e. where will 18 additional clubs come from?
    I don’t pretend to know the answers however I suppose an application is already on its way from the “usual suspect”.

    Of the two announcements the Lancashire County Leagues is far superior in that it states the leagues ultimate aim to become an ECB Premier League and lays down the minimum criteria member clubs need to meet. The Lancashire County League announcement demonstrates ambition whereas the Central Lancashire Leagues announcement is sadly lacking in this respect.

    It is impossible for anyone to determine how things will develop over the next two years what I do not wish to see happen is another competition disappear like the Manchester Association has. Maybe now is time for the Lancashire Cricket Board to bring together the leagues in the Greater Manchester Area not to coerce which it has no power to do but to plan with them a way forward and like the Liverpool area in a couple of years the Manchester area may develop a premier league structure.

  14. I believe that if you totaled up the amount of money being paid out by Liverpool Competition clubs, wether it be from the club itself or private individuals and compared it to the amount of money being paid out by CLL clubs, again, either by the club itself or private individuals, overseas professionals included, then the CLL would actually be paying more!

    The fact that it isn’t permitted to pay more than one player in the CLL is the source of the problem and it is covered up as people probably believe that clubs stick to these rules! Start with how many overseas amateurs will be self funded for the whole season? Personally, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to be employed by the club, be it as a groundsman or as a member of staff behind the bar. The same should apply to any player in fact, they should be allowed also.

    The Liverpool Competition is an open league and it is easy to focus on the league because of this but I think people get carried away believing that almost every player is getting a few quid!

    Here’s to a Greater Manchester Premier League and a change of rules!

    Good debate!

  15. It is true that the CLL announcement referred to by Colin carries little appeal to any prospective club looking to play a higher standard of cricket. It appears to come from a stymied and archaic league hierarchy that doesn’t think it has to sell itself to anyone. This is surely one of the reasons why the CLL will get left behind when the inevitable mergers in local cricket leagues take place.
    Colin has already pointed this out, but look at the wording of the Lancashire County announcement – clear in its desire for change, transparent about its ambition and aspirations, humble in its request for interested parties. Time will move on, and things will change – but without a proactive and forward thinking League committee, some CLL clubs will surely look for pastures new and league committees new.
    I say this with a fondness for the CLL acquired over 40 years – but a longing for things as they used to be, is not a way forward. I hope good young cricketers can prosper in East Lancashire at clubs with which they have a true affiliation – It is not too late to help them

  16. Mark’s nailed it there really.
    I particularly like your last sentence.
    Everyone keeping their hands in their pockets would mean the only way to compete for players is on facilities and enthusiasm and community etc, which would be the best thing to concentrate on

  17. “I hope good young cricketers can prosper in East Lancashire at clubs with which they have a true affiliation – It is not too late to help them”

    I suspect though that in a lot of cases it is too late, the world has changed since we were young, when Mark and I played in the U-15′s and 18′s teams, all we ever wanted to do was to play for our local team.

    Although we wanted to win it didn’t matter, we just wanted to play, today all that matters to kids (and their parents) is to win, if their team doesn’t win they move or quit.

    Cynical, maybe, but that’s how it works in the American Midwest where I now live, and as the saying goes, the UK follows the US trends a few years later, it’s already a few years later.

    Nice debate though, should do more of these :)

  18. ‘but without a proactive and forward thinking League committee……’
    I don’t pretend to know the make up of the CLL committee, the electoral procedures or what goes on behind the scenes. I’m sure they are doing the best they can within their capabilities but if the rank and file are not satisfied then presumably new blood could be elected in?
    This being the case, where are all these ‘forward thinking, proactive’ people who seem to have all the bright ideas? Do they not fancy giving it a go?

  19. Running the league either needs to be a paid job, or for enthusiastic and retired people in my view.
    Now, we’re not going to get it paid for so it has to be the latter.
    Someone with good IT skills, and preferably someone not mired in ‘tradition’, needs to grab hold of the league and start trying to sell it in a positive light.
    There is a big community of CLL fans and players out there who could be reached by good administrators. It should be as easy as picking up a phone or dropping an email to clubs and leagues and discussing the future.
    None of this applies to the current crop of administrators. Ok, I am sure they are enthusiastic, but someone needs to take us into the 21st century.
    They must be out there.

  20. And there you have the crux of it Scott – they need to be ‘paid or retired people’ – as you say, nobody is going get paid – therefore the latter – the latter with all due respect and with the odd exception will by and large bring more of the same – steeped in tradition with a dyed in the wool outlook on life.
    There are lots of people around who purport to have all of the answers but are not able for one reason or another to put themselves forward for committee life.
    At the end of the day, I guess we should all be grateful to the people who do give up their time whether we think they are doing a good job or not.

  21. But other leagues do it better Dave!
    Lancs League is administrated better (although they have some old ideas), the LCL is more forward-thinking than us, and every league has a better website and ways of communicating.
    It’s not asking much for our league to at least match that is there?
    I’m sort of grateful, but also struggle to understand how they have not embraced the modern world a little more fully than they have.

  22. I”ll second that about the CLL website, it’s dreadful!

    The Lancashire League’s isn’t that much better in terms of layout, but content wise it’s much better.

    Given the availability of free CMS systems, Joomla, Drupal, both websites could be drastically improved with not a lot of effort.

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