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BCB to revert to one league structure

Bermuda cricket will return to one league next season, Bermuda Cricket Board first vice-president and chairman of the cricket committee, Nyon Steede, confirmed yesterday.

The BCB recently sought input from the clubs as to the structure of the league and based the response decided to revert to all the clubs playing in one division for the 2013 season. It was something that former national player and coach Allan Douglas strongly urged last summer after his team, Cleveland, defeated Western Stars in a play-off match to hold onto their Premier Division status.

“We sent out some questions to the clubs asking for their input into the league structure as we wanted more input from the clubs, and the feedback we received was the majority of responses indicated that they were in favour of the one league,” said Steede.

“There were a few clubs that didn’t respond by the deadline that we had set but those that did respond were in favour of one league. At the Board level we had discussions on the pros and cons of one league versus two and there are benefits to the two leagues and benefits to the one league.”

One hope with one league is that the weaker clubs will be able to hold on to their better players and thus benefit from the experience of playing against the stronger teams more regularly. Despite that, a total of 27 players switched clubs during the recent transfer period, including national team player Tre Manders who has left Western Stars to join league champions Bailey’s Bay, for whom he plays in the Eastern Counties.

“Hopefully players can be encouraged to rejoin their clubs and that those clubs can rebuild their programmes around their nucleus of strong players,” said Steede. “I don’t know if the one league structure was communicated in time for those players to make an informed decision when it came to a transfer.”

The BCB has also introduced a player loan period for the first six weeks of the season when a fringe player can get experience from playing with another club. There is also a late transfer period put into place for a player to make a switch midway through the season provided he hasn’t already played .

“The Board’s main goal is to increase the amount of people who, if they want to play cricket, have the opportunity to play,” Steede stressed. “Last year Bailey’s Bay had 20-something players and realistically all of them are not going to play. It’s all about getting more people playing cricket.

“Some of the concerns about having one league is that the perceived weaker teams will be completely outclassed by the so-called better quality teams, but you have to look at, as with the national team, that in order for them to improve they have to have quality opponents. Hopefully the perceived weaker teams will see that they have more to play for since they are playing the higher calibre teams, that their training will improve so that they can be competitive.”

Young Men’s Social Club have withdrawn from the league ahead of the new season because of a shortage of players, but the Bermuda Under-19s will be inserted into the league in order to help the team gain useful match experience ahead of international competition later in the year, making it a 14-team league. The intention is to have the Under-19s play their matches on Saturday and thus be able to still play for their clubs teams on the Sunday, said Steede.

The new league will play 50-over games as well as 20/20 games, possibly under lights in midweek at grounds like Somerset and Devonshire Rec. The domestic season will kick off some time in early May, after the completion of the Division 3 Tournament which will be staged here at the end of April.

“After we sent out the e-mail to the clubs to get their input, we had a special meeting for the clubs just to talk about the new transfer, under-age player policy and the one league and the majority in attendance were in favour of the one league,” Steede disclosed. “Obviously not everyone is going to be in favour of the one league but it seems the majority have spoken.

“We have tried the two leagues for a number of years and now we decided to try something different to try to improve cricket. We are still going to have the same bonus points as last year, it seems from the statistics that were gathered there was an improvement on how long people were batting and players were more conscious of their bowling.

“Hopefully the lower teams will rise to the occasion, this is what they’ve been asking for.”

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Published April 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm)

BCB to revert to one league structure

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