Tolchards Devon League looking at the health of club cricket within its member clubs

A set of cricket stumps ahead of the start of play in a Tolchards Devon Cricket League match,. Pictu

A set of cricket stumps ahead of the start of play in a Tolchards Devon Cricket League match,. Picture STEVE BIRLEY - Credit: Archant

The Tolchards Devon Cricket League have embarked on a major piece of work to better understand the health of club cricket within its member clubs, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

The League believes that the vibrancy of clubs is critical to their future and therefore impacts on the League. The first steps in this important project was shared with member clubs at the two Divisional Meetings of the League, held recently at the Exeter Court Hotel.

The work is being led by Jon Goulder, Club representative for the Premier and A Divisions, and Pete Avery, club representative for D East Divisions, and below. Both have an active involvement with their own clubs. Jon is the chairman of Plympton Cricket Club and Peter the fixtures secretary at Feniton CC.

Between them they have been researching fixture data of member clubs, at all levels of cricket, to consider which may be at risk in the future.

Their work featured the clubs where teams were conceding games or had become frequent users of the loan and casual player schemes, offered by the DCL.

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Although the number of clubs participating in the Tolchards Devon Cricket League have remained fairly even over the last 10 years, circa 70 clubs, there has been a fall over the same period of 20 teams.

Junior development must be the cornerstone around which clubs are built. The League feels strongly that all member clubs should have a junior section to ensure their future.

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There are presently seven clubs in the eastern half of the League who do not offer junior cricket.

Many clubs have recently started with junior cricket for the younger age groups, with the ECB All Stars scheme being favourite.

However, there are only a limited number of clubs offering cricket at the higher end of junior cricket, making transition into open age cricket difficult.

In the season just ended the East Devon Youth Cricket League had only nine teams operating at under 15.

Anecdotally, one of the problems seems to be larger clubs enticing more talented players from small clubs into their junior sections.

This makes for an uneven playing field at a time when young players should be being developed for the future, not to win titles.

Encouragingly, there are an increasing number of clubs including Ipplepen, Chagford and Cullompton, who are looking at the concept of Saturday 'development XI's'. Here, most players would be club juniors in the higher age groups, supported by two or three experienced club players.

'Whether this would sit within the League framework, or outside it, is in itself unimportant, says Ed Leverton, Devon Cricket League Secretary, 'if it helps the clubs then it is certainly something we would look at.' Having a limited Saturday fixture programme for these teams could be quite an attractive option as it offers space in the programme and would attempt to maximise players availability.

'This is not about trying to win titles' Leverton continued 'and we accept that, for some clubs, the development XI may be a transitional process. However, if it becomes the means of developing young cricketers for adult cricket then that has got to be the right thing for cricket in Devon'

Any clubs, similarly interested are asked to contact Ed at

Several proposals to amend the current Playing Regulations and Rules had been received from member clubs.

These got an airing at the Divisional meetings and, as a result, firm proposals will be going forward to the League Annual General Meeting on 29th November. In the main these will cover the following areas: -

(a) Player Registration - the creation of a two-tier system between clubs in the higher and lower divisions, including a longer deadline date for player registration at the commencement of the season.

(b) Some amendments to both the Loan and Casual Player scheme.

© Regulation and definition around the movement of players between first and lower elevens, particularly in the last part of the season. There will be an attendant complaints procedure in these instances, driven by the complaining club within a limited timescale.

(d) A fresh look at start times throughout the League to ensure sensible completion times

All proposals will be circulated to member clubs for final comment around October 21.

The final circulation of documentation will go to member clubs around the 1st November for voting at the League AGM on November 29.

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