Cup reserve dates to be axed?

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Just how much clubs are prepared to let cricket’s wind of change blow through the Foster’s Halifax League will become clear in the next few weeks.

The AGM takes place at Pellon Club on Tuesday, November 18 with the Sunday Section equivalent at Sowerby Bridge two days later.

Rule changes have traditionally been few and far between but recent surveys by the ECB have indicated that the game must make itself more attractive to players, otherwise the number of participants will continue to fall.

A whole raft of proposals gained seconders at the October monthly meeting, including some that would have been given short shrift a few years ago.

They include a suggestion that there should be no reserve dates for matches in the first three rounds of the Parish Cup and Crossley Shield.

Contests would have to be settled on the first date, with bowl-offs if necessary.

That proposal is likely to go down as well with the big clubs as Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography at the ECB. However, the smaller clubs keen to pick up a prize scalp or two might just fancy it.

The argument from the neutrals in favour of change is that rescheduling cup games can play havoc with Sunday Section fixtures - one entire programme was cancelled this year - and selection for league representative sides.

One of the supposed downfalls of cricket is that matches are too long. One proposal aimed at preventing late finishes is the scrapping of the 15 minute allowance for bad weather in each innings before overs are deducted.

The Halifax League is supposed to be an all amateur league but a handful of clubs have acquired the services of “holidaying” overseas players in recent years.

There is a move to outlaw their use by bringing in a rule which states that overseas persons must have resided in the UK for 12 months before playing.

“That would stop someone arriving from Australia in March and going home in September after the last game,” said secretary Neil Myers.

The league’s seemingly unique points system is under review again.

Prosposals include having six points for a win instead of four. Currently, with bonus points, a winning team not bowling out the opposition can only get nine points compared to 12 for taking all 10 wickets.

That can make the final wicket worth three points - too much in the opinion of some.

There is also a move to award four points for an abandoned game instead of two. That would mean teams unable to play, in some cases through no fault of their own, would not lose as much ground of others picking up 12 points.

Interestingly, there is a move to increase the number of runs required to gain batting points, to take into account improvements in pitches and bats which have generally led to higher scores in the last decade or two.

At the moment teams get one bonus point for reaching 100, a second for 140 and three for 180. The proposal is to increase those figures to 135, 180 and 225.

The Sunday Section AGM will consider making batsmen retire on reaching 100.

There is already a nine over limit for bowlers, reduced by one last year when innings were cut from 45 to 40 overs per side.

The section could also have fewer meetings - five a year - in February, April, July and October with the AGM in November.

Myers said the vast majority of business would be conducted by email with the league secretary in regular touch with club secretaries and representatives.