Premier captains unenthusiastic about restoring draws in league cricket + no player support for Tall's plea to mix-it-up during the season
DEVON team chief Dave Tall can’t expect much support from Premier Division captains for any plans to restore draws in league cricket.
Winning and losing draws were ditched by Premier clubs in the Tolchards Devon League in 2011. The rest of the competition followed suit the following summer.
All Premier and A Division matches became 50-overs-a-side, win-lose affairs with no declarations, 10-over limits on bowlers and no provision for the side batting second to hold on for a draw if they could not get the runs needed to win.
Tall’s view, and one shared by his colleagues on the county club management, is that 50-over win-lose cricket does not prepare league players for the step up to Minor Counties cricket, where an innings can last 120 overs or more.
Making his plea for a change, Tall said: “If batsmen had to think about occupying the crease, and bowlers had to work out ways of dismissing batsmen, their understanding of the game would improve,” said Tall.
“Trying to bring players into the Devon set-up from the league is difficult because many don’t understand the type of cricket being played.”
Tall wanted a mix of win-lose and draw cricket in line with the Southern League, Middlesex Championship and Birmingham League, which play half a season of each.
All ten captains of sides in the Premier Division next season were asked if they would support the partial return of draw cricket. Six said a flat ‘no’ and the other four did not respond.
Jackson Thompson, the captain of 2019 Premier winners Heathcoat, has played numerous formats during his time as a pro cricketer with Gloucestershire and Middlesex, and Minor Counties cricket for Oxfordshire.
Thompson started out playing win-lose-draw cricket for his home-town club Cheltenham in the West of England Premier Division and sees no benefit in it for player development.
“The professional counties already know where the talented young cricketers are from an early age and they are playing appropriate cricket in academies and second teams if they are good enough, said Thompson.
“Saturday afternoon cricket is largely for amateur cricket who want to competitive cricket, have a laugh along the way, have a result at the end of it and a few beers afterwards
“Winning and losing draws are the most boring cricket I have ever played and going back to that format for the benefit of just a few players who play Minor Counties cricket serves no purpose.”
Tom Pedel, the captain of Exeter, was emphatic when asked if he would support any return to draw cricket.
“Definitely against,” said Pedel. “Having played win-lose and the draw format at Premier level, win-lose is far better, and more enjoyable for all involved.
“The first aim must be enjoyment, not three-day cricket the majority don't play.”
Paignton captain George Benton, who has played one-day and three-day cricket for Devon, also opposes the return of draws in league cricket.
“I am not for it at all as it promotes boring cricket for struggling teams and kills the game,” said Benton.
“Win-lose cricket is a lot more competitive in my eyes as teams have to have a real go.
“All professional cricket is win-lose so why should we be different?”
Jon Varcoe, the Plymouth skipper, said: “I am not a fan of win-lose-draw cricket. A change to Duke balls might be something to consider?”
Nick Gingell, the captain at Sidmouth, said his club spent 10 years campaigning to get rid of draws and have no desire to see them back in any context.
“I don’t know anyone who wants to see any form of draw back,” said Gingell.
Mark Lake, whose Hatherleigh side will be back in the Premier Division next summer, said as a sizeable proportion of the Devon team play outside the county any change would have a limited affect.
Lake added: “Win-lose cricket is the way ahead, not negative cricket with sides blocking out for a draw for 30 overs.”
Tall’s point of view did draw some support from former players such as Graham Bess (Sidmouth) and ex-Sandford seamer Phil Matten, who went on to umpire in the Devon League and the Minor Counties panel between 2006-2007.
“There is always merit in a draw in my opinion,” said Bess, who graced Sidmouth teams for more than 30 years.
Matten said: “Nothing worse than seeing a good team smack 300 in 50 overs and knowing the opposition have no chance of getting it.
“I’ve never been in favour of win-lose. The draw gives everyone something to play for.”