Norfolk cricket chiefs striving to achieve a common goal
Key figures from across Norfolk's cricket scene are pulling together to try and stop people quitting the game.
Attempts to arrest a growing decline in the number of players saw a number of structural changes ahead of the now completed 2015 season. One, a merger between the Norfolk League and its West Norfolk counterpart, has been deemed a huge success and has paved the way for a new link to be made prior to next term.
The winners of both set-ups' top-flights Happisburgh (Norfolk) and Hockwold (West Norfolk) have been moved up to the Norfolk Alliance and can now look forward to playing at a higher level in 2016.
John Tythcott, vice chairman of the Alliance, said: 'As we strive to move cricket forward in Norfolk, it is clear that a degree of cohesiveness and mutual flexibility is paramount between the Dipple & Conway Opticians Norfolk Cricket Alliance and its feeder leagues, the Norfolk Cricket League and the West Norfolk League.
'I am confident that the promotion of the two champions of these leagues, Happisburgh and Hockwold, into the Alliance will meet with the approval of the vast majority of cricket followers in the county. The Alliance hopes that this promotion will give both clubs the impetus to continue to improve and grow in stature and we wish them every success.'
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It had been agreed that the Alliance would consist of 69 clubs for the 2016 campaign and this will be achieved via the entry of the title-winners. Both have been allowed to go up despite not having a youth section. Yet they will be required to form one during next season and will face immediate relegation for 2017 if they fail to do so.
Norfolk League secretary Tim Porter said: 'We are delighted that both our 2015 champions will have the opportunity to progress into the Norfolk Alliance and this is a great opportunity to establish a real pathway between the two leagues.
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'We have listened to our clubs and players and established a regionalised system that allows clubs and players to find their level quickly. This agreed promotion underpins the hard work that has been undertaken to put this system in place.
'This leaves the NCL three places to fill for 2016 and we have three applicants for those vacancies, which will mean full leagues and more opportunities for cricket in the county in 2016.'
In the future it is proposed that there will be no need to formally apply in writing 18 months in advance for promotion. Instead the principle of two teams promoted/relegated between the leagues will apply, subject to the promoted teams meeting the required facilities and standard.