By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
WANTED! New or former clubs to join the South Devon Cricket League before it is too late.
The league, which was formed as a village competition in the late 1970s, has struggled for member clubs over the past decade.
What was a local league for clubs in Teignbridge and South Devon when it was first formed expanded as far as Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton in one direction and Plymouth in the other.
As recently as 2015 there were 20 teams playing in four divisions, which included two regionalised divisions at level three.
By 2017 numbers had dropped to12 clubs competing in two divisions. Had the 2020 season gone ahead as planned, just four teams were left. They were Kingsbridge, Ipplepen, Plympton and Ashburton.
Although long-serving secretary Dave Howe has stepped down from his administration role after nearly 30 years in the post, committee colleagues are hoping to revive the league.
Bryon Fishlock, the league chairman, said a number of radical ideas are proposed to make matches more attractive to players.
Said Fishlock: “It is suggested 30 or 40-over games will be played with clubs choosing which.
“In a 40-over game, bowlers will be restricted to eight overs and batsmen will retire at 75 runs.
“Bowlers will be restricted to six overs in the 30-over game and batsmen will retire at 50.
“No-balls and wides will count as two runs and no extra ball given, except in the last two overs when normal laws of cricket will apply.
“Teams will be placed in groups of four, all being local to one another, to avoid too much travelling.”
Fishlock added that the top team from each division would play-off against each other in August or September for the South Devon League Cup.
Player eligibility has been a long-running headache for the South Devon League, which has never forgotten its roots as a village competition. It was largely for Sunday cricketers and legislated accordingly.
Fishlock said for 2021 teams will only be allowed to field one player from a Devon League Premier or A Division side.
Entry fees for 2021 have been fixed at £20 per club and match balls will be sold to teams at cost price.
The league’s annual meeting is usually staged in early December, but has been delayed by the Cornona virus pandemic. It is likely to be held in the New Year when the proposed changes will be voted on.
Any club interested in joining the league should contact Fishlock (01392 468962), results and fixtures co-ordinator Sheila Harding (01392 876481) or treasurer Liz Fulner (01626 872912) for more details.