FIXTURES played under the banner of the Palladium West Devon Youth Cricket League get under way this weekend.

The majority of the West clubs decided to commence youth training and subsequently agreed to take part in matches.

Andy Alford, the league secretary and a committeeman for 27 years, said: “I am really pleased to see youth cricket return as these players are the future of the game many of us love.

“Understandably though a few clubs have decided against returning due to on-going Covid-19 concerns.”

Alford said for the first time in the league’s history all games would be played as friendlies as playing is more important than outcomes.

“The main focus this season has to be to get youngsters on the field of play,” said Alford.

“It's not about beating our rivals; it is about all clubs coming together to ensure we expose the game to our future players.

“Last season was hugely positive for the league, after a significant increase in player numbers and teams entering as a result of this factor.

"What we do now as a league, and its membership, could help our clubs retain players for coming seasons.

"For now we focus on supplying games of cricket until the end of August, but our attention must soon turn to the 2021 season in the hope that we can return to competitive cricket.”

New to the competition this season are Hatherleigh CC, who have entered two teams at under-11 level and another at under-13.

Palladium Builders Merchants are continuing their long-standing partnership with the league as sponsors, which dates back to 1984.

Alford said the support of such a committed sponsor could not be underestimated.

“The amount of money Palladium has given to our league has to be one of, if not the longest, sponsor partnerships in any sport.

“The money Palladium gives supports our youngsters 100 per cent.”