AFTER two seasons of playing the opening round of the Parish Cup (first XIs) and Crossley Shield (second XIs) on a Saturday, the ENCO Halifax League have decided to revert to the matches being played wholly on Sundays.

Realising that using an extra Saturday for knockout fixtures made the season too long, clubs voted 24-7 to revert to the Sabbath at the league’s annual meeting at Pellon Social Cub.

Also, clubs that withdraw from the Parish Cup will not be allowed to retain their team in the Crossley Shield.

Meanwhile, clubs that fail to provide an Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) umpire for two consecutive seasons will not only have a 12-point deduction for each campaign but must also apply for re-election to the league following the second season.

Also, any stand-in square-leg umpire must be at least 18 years old.

The clubs have also voted in that any new rule, existing rule that has been altered or a rule change that is rejected then cannot be re-submitted for 24 months.

Among proposals that failed, mostly submitted by clubs rather than by the league executive, were to reduce the number of runs needed for batting bonus points (from 100-149 to 100-139 for example); introduce fielding circles in league matches, and revert to 1.30pm starts instead of 1pm (1pm in April and September).

In his annual report, league secretary Tim Helliwell revealed that he did not want to see rules brought in to punish clubs for slow over rates.

He wrote: “The executive will be working alongside the umpires’ exec(utive) in 2024 to combat slow over rates.

“I hope all will support our aim to speed up the game. I really do not want to see rules introduced, points deductions etc as other league have done. Hopefully we can all work together to achieve this without resorting to punishments.”

In other news, clubs within the ENCO Halifax League have until mid-December to decide whether to welcome league founder member Stainland back into the Saturday fold.

League secretary Tim Helliwell said at the league’s annual meeting at Pellon Social Club: “Stainland resigned from the Saturday league in 2013 as they didn’t have enough players for two teams.

“However, junior cricket was played there and they joined the Halifax League’s Sunday competition in 2022, playing friendlies that season but league matches this season.

“Their juniors reached the under-11 cup final, and facilities at the ground are extremely good, with increased takings at the bar.

“They are like Phoenix risen from the ashes, and it is extremely heart-warming.

“They now want Saturday cricket for their 15-year-olds and we don’t want their hard work to be in jeopardy.

“Stainland want to enter a second XI on Saturdays in 2024 as well as continuing in the Sunday League, with a view to putting in a first XI Saturday team in 2025.

“Their second XI would start in Division Two and we are asking clubs to vote by mid-December whether they want Stainland involved in Saturday cricket.”

Meanwhile, ENCO have confirmed that they will continue to sponsor the league in 2024, while the league are soon due to announce that the Crossley Shield (second XI cup competition) will have new sponsors.

The season 2024 season will run from April 20 to September 14.