Tolchards Devon Cricket League meeting to discuss rule change proposals

Promotion play-offs for a place in the B Division, changes to player eligibility and an attempt to stop clubs strengthening lower-level sides for important games late in the season, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Those are just some of the proposals up for discussion by Tolchards Devon League clubs at next week's round of divisional meetings.

The meetings allow clubs to discuss potential rule and regulation changes ahead of the league's annual meeting to iron out any potential problems or differences of opinion.

Premier, A and B Division clubs will meet at the Exeter Court Hotel in Kennford on Monday night, and regional division club the following evening, to go through seven pages of proposed amendments and new rules and regulations.

Some are old favourites such as Barnstaple & Pilton's plea to raise the price of teas to £40 per team.

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Some are tidying-up exercises, such as changing the transitional arrangements relating to promotion and relegation from the C Divisions down, which were two-year time limited after the league switched from separate first and second team competitions to an all-through competition for the 2018 season.

And some are new proposals never seen before, such a closing a transfer loophole and preventing clubs putting regular 1st XI players in lower-ranked teams to win matches in the latter part of the season.

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Clubs will be asked to vote for a more detailed registration process to avoid misidentification of players. Accurate dates of birth will become compulsory for 2020.

League officials put the proposal forward after it was discovered a player still registered for one club scored a hundred for a new team and was registered for both at the same time because his date of birth had been given inaccurately.

Eligibility to play is also under scrutiny with a change put forward by the league management to ease restrictions on clubs in the F Division and below.

Currently, no cricketer who has not played in the current season can appear for his club for the first time that season after July 31 unless he was registered the previous year and played in at least three games.

For clubs in the bottom three divisions the previous season qualification would be lowered to one match if the proposal is eventually accepted.

The casual player scheme gets a make-over, likewise the loan player scheme has been fettled.

Ed Leverton, the secretary of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League said: "A proposal likely to promote plenty of debate is the one aimed at regulating player selection in an attempt to stop clubs strengthening 2nd or 3rd teams in lower divisions by importing players from a higher 1st or 2nd XI.

"With the disparity of playing strength and abilities within the DCL it has become appropriate to restrict clubs from unreasonably strengthening teams playing in the lower divisions as this is not adequately covered within the 'Spirit of Cricket'.

"The 'massaging' of teams arises either as a result of the late withdrawal of a club from a division leading to 'blank' weekends or in-order to improve the chance of promotion or stave off relegation."

The proposed new rule 10 is

i Players who have played five or more matches in the Premier and A Divisions in the current season are permitted to play in a club's 2nd X1 or lower team only up to and including July 31

ii Players who have played five or more matches in the B Division in the current season are permitted to play in a club's 2nd X1 or lower team only up to and including July 31

iii In all other divisions if a player has played more than 10 times as a 1st team player up to and including July 31 they will only be permitted to play in one lower division match during August. Furthermore, a club can only play a maximum of two such players in any one match after July 31

Leverton stressed league officials are not looking to restrict a club's natural selection policy.

In circumstances where a player is returning from long term injury, one lasting two weeks or more from the date of the player's last appearance in the DCL, permission can be sought, and not unreasonably withheld, from the LMC (via the league secretary initially, to play other than in the first-team fixture," said Leverton.

The loophole that allowed a player to move clubs after June 30 will be closed if clubs support an amendment to rule 13.

A player who is registered with a club but has not played in the current season, can be de-registered by his existing club then register with a new one. By de-registering, no transfer takes place and the player has until July 31 to find a new club.

Tougher penalties for fielding unregistered players - 20 points per player per game - have been put forward by Plympton.

Among other ideas up for discussion include:

Standard start times at 12.30 in all divisions (Plympton/Bradninch)

Scrapping batting and bowling bonus points (Sidmouth)

Fielding circles extended to the E, F, G and H Divisions (Exwick)

Easing the interpretation of a leg side wide from the D Division down (Sidmouth)

Longer games in the B Division - up from 45 to 50 overs

There is a lot to get through, but Leverton said that was a sign of a healthy competition.

"It is gratifying that many member clubs actively engaged in the process and sent proposals across quite a broad scope," said Leverton.

Leverton said further proposals relating to the league's three cup tournaments will be published after consideration by the competitions sub-committee.

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