Steyning, Slinfold and West Chilt back move to restructure cricket league

Sussex League Division 4: Slinfold (batting) v Hellingly. Pic Steve Robards.  Batting Guy Thorne SUS-160725-140812001
Sussex League Division 4: Slinfold (batting) v Hellingly. Pic Steve Robards. Batting Guy Thorne SUS-160725-140812001

Local sides most effected by the Sussex Cricket League restructuring - Slinfold, Steyning and West Chiltington - have backed the move as a positive one.

The changes see the 80 teams split into eight divisions after a proposed plan saw the league reduce to six divisions.

The top two divisions remain the same, but Division 3 downwards sees 1st and 2nd XIs mixed against each other.

To allow for this some sides have been promoted or relegated from unusual positions, while some have not been promoted as expected.

Slinfold won promotion from Division 4 last season as champions, but have remained where they were with a new-look make-up and new opposition in the division.

Steyning - who had a competitive finish in Division 3 last season - have also dropped down into Division 4.

West Chiltington have been effected by dropping into Division 5 - which again has a completely new look.

Despite those movements the clubs all see positives of the moves and have welcomed them.

Slinfold skipper Guy Thorne said: “With regards to the new league, we knew at the beginning of the season what the outcomes could be, so despite being promoted and being in the new Division 4 it is still the same great achievement.

“It’s a nice fresh challenge for us next year. It will have a new look and feel about it, we’ll be up against some sides we are familiar with like Steyning, Goring and Stirlands, and we’ll have some fantastic grounds to play at with the likes of Hastings and Horsham 2nd XIs.

“There are some really strong clubs and 2nd XIs around, so it will be interesting to see how those sides do in the new Division 3 and 4. I think in two or three years time you’ll see clubs where they should be in the new structure, but it will take time for the new structure to bed in.”

Thorne added that some Division 5 and 6 East sides could feel hard done by, while some may not be able to cope with the standard at all.

He added: “There are no easy solutions where restructures are concerned, but hopefully things will settle and club sides will end up playing at the levels they should be in a few years time. For us, we look forward to next year, it has a nice freshness to things and we can’t wait to get started.”

Steyning skipper David Kennett said: “From my point view, it’s very frustrating to be in Division 4 after missing out by just a few points in what was a very competitive league and an enjoyable season.

“From a club point of view, on the whole, we back the decision to restructure.

“It can only be a good thing for cricket in Sussex and after a couple of years when the leagues stabilise themselves it should work out well and have really good competitive cricket all through the county.

“Next year will be weird obviously not knowing how good the 2nd XI teams are going to be, but hopefully it will be as competitive as last season and there will be some nice grounds to visit next year.”

West Chilt’s Will Hasler said: “As a club, we are supportive of the league changes. We do recognise that there will be a short-term impact on several Sussex clubs like us.

“Our move from Division 4 to Divison 5 West is clearly part of a process designed to streamline the Sussex League structure. However, we take the long view and realise that all 1st and 2nd XIs will eventually find their level.”