Some crucial decisions are in the melting pot for Huddersfield cricket.
The fate of clubs currently in the Solly Sports Huddersfield Central League is at the heart of the matter , but also the future of the junior and second XI game in this area.
It seems certain the Central League will no longer exist in 2017 and clubs voted narrowly in favour of pursuing a merger proposal with the Spenser Wilson Halifax League (which promotes amateur cricket).
Two of the 16 Central clubs, Higham and Green Moor, are heading to the South Yorkshire League, but others pushed the button on joining Halifax, who put in a series of excellent measures to accommodate them.
Since then, however, it’s emerged five Central clubs – Holmbridge, Edgerton & Dalton, Cartworth Moor, Almondburians and Nortonthorpe – have asked the Drakes League to reconsider involvement with them.
And three – Birchencliffe, Leymoor and Mount – have had separate applications to the Halifax League accepted (subject to the usual conditions at the annual meeting).
Those three, who resigned from the Central League by the official cut-off date, now have cricket safeguarded at their grounds in 2017.
The Halifax League will now await what number of clubs wish to join that trio, keen not to see any club without a league next season.
The Drakes – who are not part of the new Yorkshire pyramid system – had previously offered only an associate arrangement and had accepted the Central vote to merge with Halifax, whose clubs have been involved in the decision process from day one.
The Halifax plan is to accommodate the majority of the Central League clubs in a Central Conference division, with current clubs forming an in-tandem District Conference division.
In this way the number of matches involving crossing the north/south divide of the M62 will be minimal, mostly only for cup competitions.
Promotion will be available from the Conferences to the division above, but clubs may opt to stay in the lower division if they so desire.
Now, while the Central League have a meeting next Tuesday, the Drakes Executive – also keen not to see clubs without a league – are set to discuss if there is any leeway to accommodate more than their current 38 clubs when they meet on Wednesday, September 7.
Clubs changing leagues comes under the umbrella of the YCB, and in the past clubs have had to gain approval of their resignation from one set-up, and give notice, before joining another.
But this is such a unique situation of upheaval and flux that Central clubs appear, at the moment, to be split on how to progress, with some clearly still hopeful an HD postcode on their away games while others are fine with playing in Calderdale.
One suggestion for integrating clubs into the Drakes would be for them to compete in a new second XI arrangement, with maybe a new split of divisions.
Central first teams could possibly slot into a new section between, say, Jedi Sports Championship Two and the Cedar Court Conference Two, with second teams operating below that latter level.
Halifax have already tabled their proposals for restructuring with an influx of Central clubs – on a regionally-sensible basis – and they will, rightly, be keen for some final decisions to be made.
Meanwhile, the future of Drakes second XI cricket and, more accurately, the prospects for making it more attractive to younger players is back on the agenda among clubs.
Playing a shorter, coloured-clothing game at second XI level has been suggested to entice junior players to stay involved. A restructure of the age-groups in the Sellers Junior League may also be considered, to avoid quite so many teenage players simply disappearing from the game.