Accentuating the positive

Cricket officials this winter will be turning their attention towards addressing the problem of teams having to cancel matches because of lack of numbers.

But local officials seem optimistic about the future and do not believe there is a serious threat to the No 1 summer game.

Under a rule brought in to underline the commitment of clubs to honour fixtures, four teams have been expelled from the Stoner Mid Sussex League this season but results secretary Jim Hewitt remains positive. Three cancellations in one season currently means automatic expulsion.

“A relaxation of the rules is on the agenda for this year’s AGM as we wish to encourage cricket and not prohibit it within the villages,” he said.

“My personal view is that cricket is still strong within the villages but clubs need to look inwardly. The cost of fuel travelling to different parts of the county has got to be a factor when you face only eight players, and finishing at tea-time can’t be good for the game.

“Youngsters have far more options these days and there will always be the usual problem of family weddings, stag dos and holidays but I don’t think cricket is in decline.

“After the 2005 Ashes win my club and many others had a big input of younger players and, hopefully, the same can happen again.

“National success generates interest and that will probably be the case with tennis and cycling.”

Tony Millard of the Sussex League commented: “Obviously at Lewes there have been problems this season but generally the higher the level, the less likelihood there is of games being forfeited.

“We’ve had two exceptions (Haywards Heath II and Glynde II) but both clubs now seem OK and we do not expect such situations in the Sussex League.

“The Sussex Board is conscious that some clubs have struggled to field the team to which they are committed and the whole matter will be discussed post season.”