No more draws in 2013 Devon Cricket League after AGM vote
WHOLESALE changes to playing regulations in the Devon Cricket League were voted through at the competition's annual meeting in Exeter despite murmurs of dissent.
Straight win-lose cricket was trialled in the Premier Division in 2012, in place of the old rules which allowed the team batting second to block out for a draw if they had no prospect of winning.
Chiefs copied that format used elsewhere in the country when the league was first formed in 1972, coining the phrases winning and losing draw to explain who had the best of a stalemate.
The England & Wales Cricket Board, which oversees Premier League competitions such as the Devon League, has never been too keen on win-lose cricket on a Saturday afternoon.
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The view from ECB HQ has been that league cricket should be a microcosm of the First Class game, in which you have to bowl a side out to win a match.
Over the past few years ECB's line has softened and win-lose cricket is becoming more commonplace.
Clubs discussed the switch throughout all 15 divisions of the league in cluster groups last autumn and overwhelmingly agreed win-lose cricket was what they wanted.
Interestingly, on the night of the annual meeting at the Exeter Court Hotel, there were no speakers in favour of the change, only a handful against.
Exeter, Topsham St James and Dartington & Totnes all voiced concerns about rigid limitations on the number of overs bowlers are permitted – and having enough bowlers to get through a match, especially at second, third and fourth team level.
"How will batting against sides, who have two or three bowlers who really aren't good enough improve the standard of cricket?' asked Mick Rusling of Dartington & Totnes.
Rupert Pratt, the chairman of Topsham St James, said having a draw meant games which could easily be mis-matches were kept alive to the end.
"Sometimes it is numbers nine, 10 and 11 who can save a game – and that is quite an achievement for them," said Pratt.
Clubs sat in polite silence while the dissenters had their say – and voted overwhelmingly in favour of ignoring them.
The most heated debate of the annual meeting came when a proposal to redraw the registration rules was thrown out despite being backed enthusiastically by league management.
Clubs were not interested in the nuances of who qualifies as an overseas player, a thorny problem in the past, but were concerned by the plan to introduce all-through registration from top to bottom.
Currently, clubs don't need to register players for second XI games, a loophole league management has wanted to close for a while.
Speaker after speaker opposed the amendment, which drew no proponents among clubs represented.
Bradninch, Thorverton, Shobrooke Park, Paignton and Halberton and Sampford Peverell opposed the motion.
James May of Thorverton CC said: "This would be a barrier to people taking part in cricket – not something we should encourage."
Danny Coles of Halberton & Sampford Peverell said clubs in the lower divisions often rounded up players on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. That would be almost impossible under the proposed rule.
Paignton's Geoff Read said: "It is a lot of unnecessary paperwork for no good reason."
League administrator Geoff Coish said the current system didn't encourage loyalty to clubs, pointing out that divisional secretaries often found cases of players flitting from club to club on a weekly basis. Clubs remained unimpressed and voted 44-13 against the league proposal.
When the vote was announced, a spontaneous round of applause broke out.
Some good news for clubs in tough times financially was that subscriptions will be reduced for 2013 by between £25 and £30 depending on the division entered.
Although the league reported a loss of nearly £5,100 in 2012, reserves remain healthy at around £13,000.
Once the business of the evening was over, championship and individual trophies were handed out.
Young Player of the Year went to Plympton's Josh Mailing.
Exmouth and Devon batsman David Lye won Player of the Year after scoring 717 runs at an average of 55.15 in the Premier Division in 2012.
League treasurer from 2003-2012 Richard Hussey won a Services to the League award.