PETER Foster, who has returned to his former position of league secretary, says that the Craven League has started to make the “huge changes” necessary to safeguard their cricketing future.

In his report to the league’s annual meeting at Cross Hills Social Club, he said that moving the early rounds of the Wynn and Cowling Cups to Saturdays was a starting point as was reducing the number of teams in a division from 12 to 10.

In addressing what the future holds for the Craven League, he said: “It’s a sad fact that grass-roots cricket is undergoing changes - big changes.

“Teams are losing players, clubs are losing teams, old and established leagues are shutting down, other leagues are amalgamating, so where does that leave us?

“We could carry on as we are. We’ll continue to lose clubs, we’ll continue to welcome new clubs, but in the end the downward spiral will continue and we would become an unattractive option for clubs wishing to move leagues.

“After taking stock of the situation throughout the summer it has become clear that we, as a league, needed to make huge changes going forward.

“The unprecedented amount of conceded Sunday cup fixtures was the first point of concern.

“This resulted in the executive (committee) floating the idea among you (the clubs) of divisional re-structuring, taking the current format of 12 teams down to 10.

“This would instantly free up several Saturdays throughout the summer - Saturdays when cup competitions could be played.

“I’m delighted to say that this was well received and, after a unanimous show of hands at a recent league meeting, this is how we will progress as we start the season in 2023.”

Foster added: “This is a pivotal time in our 135-year history. We hold our future in our own hands.

“This committee you have authorised to take the league forward will run with that mandate and strive to make the Craven Cricket League bigger, better and be an inviting and accommodating option to other clubs wishing to join our family.”

Earlier in his address, Foster looked back at the 2022 season and the introduction of a (bonus) points system.

He said: “The new system was well received and created an added impetus during the game.

“Players were heard saying: "Ten more runs for another point", "one more wicket for another point" and it went on, bringing an extra dimension of excitement and match consideration that we as a league hadn’t experienced before.

“Like all new formats, sometimes a little tweaking is necessary, and the points system is no different, with several points of view being aired in the new rules amendments.”

For example, an abandoned game with no play is now worth five points to each team, instead of three, while a game that is abandoned after starting is worth five points per team (instead of three) plus any accrued bonus points.

Another success was the Manorlands Plate, which switched from a T20 format to a Hundred format, with entries increased from seven clubs to 15.