Huddersfield cricket will change for ever from Sunday.
Final matches will be played in the Solly Sports Huddersfield Central League and then the debate will intensify over what should happen to their clubs.
This has now been put sharply into focus following the breakdown of talks between the Drakes League and Spenser Wilson Halifax League to find a joint solution.
A meeting of Central clubs on Tuesday will now be important.
A statement from the Halifax League reads: “We have invested a great deal of time, work and effort into producing proposals to try and safeguard the future of Central League clubs in a workable structure, a process that started in early 2016.
“We are extremely disappointed to learn that the Drakes League have decided not to pursue the options agreed in recent discussions between the chairmen of both leagues and have now stated that they cannot work with the Halifax League in finding a suitable solution.”
The statement continued: “From the outset, the Halifax League’s sole aim was to work with the Central League in the best interests of their clubs and amateur cricket to ensure all their clubs had a home to play competitive cricket – and we did just that following very amicable discussions.
“As previously stated, separate applications to join the Halifax League from Birchencliffe, Leymoor and Mount are now at an advanced stage, but we feel very sorry for those clubs who now face uncertainty as to whether they will even have a league to play cricket in next season.”
Drakes chairman Trevor Atkinson confirmed they had decided to work alone, but denied any clubs would be left in the lurch.
“We have been in touch with the Central League and told them we are prepared to take as many clubs as wish to come,” said Atkinson.
“No-one is going to get left out and no-one has an uncertain future as far as we are concerned. All we need to know is an idea of numbers for our meeting on October 3, so that we can make plans for all those who wish to come.”
Atkinson confirmed clubs with only one team would also be accommodated in a new structure, even though this is against full Drakes rules.
“It would be a semi-detached set-up from the Drakes, but we would administer it,” he added.
“It would cater for any clubs from the current Central League and, once we know how many, we can put forwards some concrete proposals.”
Six Central clubs – Cartworth Moor, Almondburians, Edgerton & Dalton, Holmbridge, Nortonthorpe and Flockton – inquired about joining the Drakes, despite previously being part of a vote agreeing to join a new Halifax structure.
Higham and Green Moor are heading to the South Yorkshire ranks, and Denby Grange possibly to Pontefract, so it leaves the likes of Holmbridge, Bradley & Colne, Horbury Bridge and Calder Grove to decide what they are doing.
While the Halifax League are understandably upset after detailing proposals to take the Central League clubs in their entirity, hopefully, a suitable plan will emerge to enable competitive cricket to continue at all those clubs who need looking after.
This all comes on the back of further concerns about the future of some Drakes clubs.
Three Premiership clubs – Golcar, Barkisland and Elland (who have been relegated this summer) – have put in a potential rule amendment to reduced the top flight to 12 from a current 14 clubs in 2018.
That means 11 of the top division haven’t put forward such an amendment, as it would mean three being relegated and only one promoted from the Jedi Sports Championship next summer, but it will go to a vote at the annual meeting in December.
The feeling among those opposed to the change is this: Why would you vote for fewer matches when everyone in the Premiership had at least five matches abandoned this summer, a handful lost six or seven matches and one, Broad Oak, didn’t finish in nine?
There seems to be a rapidly diminishing appetite for Sunday cricket among second XIs, however, while there appears to be a split on whether to reduce the length of second-team matches.
Some believe it’s essential to play fewer overs to maintain interest, particularly among youngsters from the T20 era, while the other school feel it’s better to have longer matches to give young players chance to develop.
A number of clubs are already experiencing difficulty putting out first and second teams and, while Drakes rules say clubs have to have two teams, that could come under review quite soon.
There is also an ongoing shortage of umpires, one the Umpires Association are keen to address.
They say the answer comes from within the clubs, where many members and former players could get involved and would receive every help along the way (courses for people to get the basic umpiring qualification are run every year).
For information about becoming an umpire contact David Haikings on 01484 301252.