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Commercial League folds after 40 years

The Commercial Cricket League, which has been a Bermuda summer fixture for more than 40 years, has folded — for 12 months at least. President Barry Richards hoped to revitalise the league's dwindling fortunes by switching to a Twenty20-only format this season, replacing the usual mixture of 42-overs-a-side league games, 40-overs knockout as well a T20 competition. But his plan — with the help of Evening Cricket League organiser Stephen West — failed to spark the kind of interest from new clubs he was hoping for to support an eight-strong league. "I'll try again next year," a disappointed Richards said yesterday. The league started with five teams last season — a far cry from its heyday when as many as ten clubs took part — and ended with four after Devonshire Stars pulled out at halfway. A hammer blow came when Forties, the league's oldest remaining club, which joined in 1983, announced earlier this year it was quitting. Richards did get a commitment from Bailey's Bay to enter a team but he decided four teams — including stalwarts Spring Garden Cavaliers, Jamaican Association and North Village — were not enough to have a competitive T20 league. The exact year the league started remains a mystery as a former secretary lost the records. But a number of former national team players — including El James, Ricky Hill and Allen Richardson — have enjoyed productive stints in the league whose games have been played largely on Astroturf pitches around the Island, including Shelly Bay, Garrison Field and Warren Simmons Community Field (old Royal Naval Field). Current national team player Lionel Cann held the league record for a time with his 165 for St David's second XI. Meanwhile, the Evening Cricket League's new season got under way this week with Southampton Rangers fielding a team — Blue Fever, captained by Gerry Saltus — after they were called up at the last minute. The vacancy occurred when Premier Division club Top Shottas pulled out last month. Relegated High Flyaz will remain in the top flight while Blue Fever will begin in the Second Division.