The Sussex Premier Cricket League (SCPL) will start the 2017 season with a new look and structure.
And this means teams this season will be playing for places in the new set-up next year.
At the moment the league has eight divisions, broken up into four first XI and four second XI divisions.
But the 2017 season will see 10 divisions of six teams with second XIs mixing it with first XIs.
At the end of this season the normal promotion and relegation will take place.
After this the teams ranked 61 to 80 would move into the West Sussex and East Sussex Feeder Leagues under a pre-agreed pattern. The SPCL would then consist of 60 teams in six divisions of 10. The teams would be ranked as follows:
Those in the Premier Division (1-10), those in Division Two (11-20), the top five teams in Division Three (21-25), the top five teams in 2nd XI Division One (26-30), the bottom five teams in Division Three (31-35), the bottom five teams in 2nd XI Division One (36-40), the 10 teams in Division Four (41-50) and the 10 teams in 2nd XI Division Two (51-60).
Teams 1-40 in that order will in groups of 10 form the Premier Division and Divisions Two, Three and Four, whilst the teams ranked 41-60 will form Divisions Five East and West on a geographical basis.
The restructure came about after in 2013 and 2014 the ECB conducted a National Player Survey in 2013 and 2014 in an effort to discover why there was a decrease in people playing cricket.
It appeared that about seven per cent of adult cricketers were leaving the game each year. The information collected was able to be separated by counties and leagues.
SCPL secretary Terry Burstow told us: “The Sussex Cricket Board (now part of Sussex Cricket Ltd) followed this up, in conjunction with the Sussex Premier Cricket League (SPCL) and a further player survey of Sussex players was carried out.
“From this the main things that were learnt were that players wanted more competitive games. They felt that too many were one-sided.
“They wanted earlier finishes on a Saturday and they wanted an element of win/lose limited overs cricket. In fact there was a fair number of players who wanted to move completely away from timed games and play limited overs cricket exclusively.”
Another change for the 2017 season sees half the games being played as timed games and the other half as limited overs (50/50 in the Premier Division and 45/45 in the others).
Burstow said there were four steps the SCPL took to put the league structure and format in place.
He said: “The first step was, therefore, to bring this anomaly into line. The second step was to move the bottom 20 teams in the Sussex League into the feeder leagues, at an appropriate position to their strength, leaving the Premier League with the county’s best 60 teams, in line with the league’s elite status.
“The third step was to introduce some win/lose cricket, which was already being played in some divisions of the feeder leagues. The SPCL decided to adopt the same format which takes place in the surrounding first class Counties.
“The Premier Leagues in Kent, Hampshire, Essex and Surrey already split the 18-match season’s schedule into nine timed games and nine limited overs win/lose games. The fourth step was to cater for the early finish requirement and this could only be done by shortening the game or starting earlier.
“There was little appetite for shortening the games and so earlier starting times were proposed.
“At the present time this has not been approved as a small minority of clubs use their grounds on a Saturday morning for colts games. This is being looked into further.”
First and second XI teams can now face each other in the SCPL, but teams from the same club cannot be in the same division.
Burstow said: “Clubs would be unable to have two teams at the same level, so a promotion would be denied or a 2nd XI could be relegated if their first XI was relegated into their Division.
“In the event, for example, of a club’s first XI finishing in a relegation position in their Division and their second XI finishing in a promotion position in the Division below, I suppose they could both stay where they are, but the league committee would need to rule on that!”
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