SAYING yes at an annual meeting in December is a lot easier than trying to get a team on the pitch in April, when the rugby and football seasons are still going, but there is renewed optimism within the Mewies Solicitors Craven League that Sandy Lane’s second team may be the only casualties.

Fixture secretary Trevor Coe even went as far at the league’s annual meeting at Cross Hills Social Club to retract his published fears over club withdrawals.

But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and league secretary Ann Coe stated in her thoughtful annual report: “Some clubs are struggling to fulfil their fixtures, and every year the number of conceded matches is increasing.

“How do we get more people playing cricket and getting them to play more often? Nobody has the answer to this, other than clubs need a junior section.

“Some people in authority within our game think that it’s survival of the fittest. They believe that if a club folds, their players will go to another more successful club.

“I know that if a player is associated with a particular club and they always have been, if that club folds they won’t play cricket again, so survival of all clubs has to be our aim.

“With this in mind, our clubs have to be realistic. They have to look at what players they have available now.

“Please don’t leave it until the week before we start playing, only to find out your players have gone. I need to know which teams will be entering the league next season.

“This information was asked for at the November meeting, and clubs were supposed to let me know before the annual meeting. Only five clubs have responded and we have 11 teams for next year.”

However, in a straw poll around the room at Cross Hills Social Club, only Sandy Lane responded in the negative.

The secretary then touched on the lack of umpires and scorers.

“Where do we get them from and how do we keep them interested?

The league can have training courses, but the clubs have to get volunteers before anything can be done.

“It’s up to the clubs to get umpires and scorers.

“Talk to ex-players, juniors, junior’s parents or enthusiastic supporters – ask them if they would be interested in helping out.

“Umpires and scorers have to come from within the game. We cannot expect someone who has never been associated with cricket to volunteer.”

Player discipline proved an increasing problem for the league in 2017.

Coe wrote: “Last season off the field was a difficult one for the Craven League. I have no idea what happened and why the league had so many disciplinary issues.

“I take some comfort from the fact that it wasn’t just our league having problems.

“The UAJCA (Upper Airedale Junior Cricket Association) had an issue at under-nine level, and the Nidderdale League have lost their league secretary due to comments on social media, and these are just two examples.

“At the League Council meetings talking to colleagues, several leagues reported discipline as an issue. Trevor (Coe) insisted there was something in the water last season, but as we know it goes deeper than that and it’s something wrong within our society.