This is “that time of the year” I really look forward to
It’s fixture time with all the complications the ECB can come up with
Whatever happens I “mustn’t grumble”. Because as usual they “The ECB” have been and gone and done just that and made life complicated. When all the dust settles it may actually prove to be a blessing – but in the meantime we have to come to terms with the “proposed” changes to the ECB Boys County Age Group competitions. I say “proposed” as the changes I am wrestling with have to be finally sanctioned by the appropriate committee down at Lords. I really cannot see any change of mind.
In simple terms it has been decided that the Under 13 Boys County Age Group 40 Overs ECB Competition will be consigned to history. We currently compile our own fixture programmes for Under 10, 11 and 12 Boys Age Groups and for 2013 will now have to add the Under 13 age group as well. In 2012 we successfully implemented an Under 13 Development team to compliment the main County team and are looking to further develop this in 2013. What we will have to do is look to create a programme in just the same way we have for the younger age groups to involve both the main Under 13 County Team and the Development team. We have a very good idea of what we would like to do and the sort of fixtures we would like to arrange – but we do not know what other counties will set as their priorities. If we can move towards what we have in mind then I am sure we can develop a programme that will be better for the development of this critical age ready for when they, as Under 14’s in 2014, get the chance to participate in the ECB Championship for that age group.
You may notice I refer to the ECB Under 14 Championship and not County Cup. The ECB have also decided to scrap the Under 14 County Cup with its annual Finals and replace it with a series of Championship matches which will eventually produce a League table. That Under 14 League table of 2013 will be added to the Under 13 League table of 2012 to produce the final table which will then identify the “A” and “B” Divisions for the Under 15 County Cup.
From 2014 onwards just the League table for the Under 14 age group will be used to divide the counties making up that League into the two Divisions for 2015. To help ensure as many games as possible are played bearing in mind the false tables of 2012 when so many matches were lost to the weather then we will be able to-re-arrange matches lost to bad weather.
So from next season, 2013, and onwards there will be just one County Cup Competition with National Finals – at Under 15 – for the Boy’s teams up to that age group.
There are not many of us left who can remember what we used to do prior to the introduction of the ECB Competitions. For those of you who have read my “most impressive”, quote Nigel Warne, “History of LSCA” you will know that in the 1990’s under the guidance of the English Schools Cricket Association, and the financial support of the Army Careers Board, we had developed national competitions at Under 13 and Under 15 levels with National Finals over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Believe it or not in the early rounds played under the banner of the Northern Counties Finals we played “timed” cricket with a Ken Lake inspired points system to identify Quarter Finalists.
The winners then progressed to the National Finals which were played as overs matches. The active involvement of Major Tim Bible of the Army Careers Board led to the initial Finals being played at some pretty famous army grounds in the south. We got the full regimental treatment with bands accompanying lunch even. The influence of the Army waned a little and we moved to Oundle School for the ESCA / Lords Taverner’s Finals in both Under 13 and 15 age groups. I am proud to say that Lancashire featured quite heavily in a number of those Final weekends.
Then in 2002 the ECB decided the “time was ripe” and we moved on into a new era with National Finals at Under 13, Under 14 and Under 15. Now in 2013 we have just one set of Finals – now that’s progress, or is it. I have had a bit of “return to the future” feeling ever since I received the email from Headquarters. I mean you don’t even get a formal letter now – just an email. Mustn’t grumble.
Whether when the dust settles on our new Under 13 fixture programme we will have achieved the aims we have set or not we will have to wait and see – the Northern Counties Competition of yesteryear could even make a comeback. This will really depend on what other counties want to do.
One other thing that always used to happen in the past was that come every season each age group, then from Primary level to Under 15, had a county fixture on Old Trafford. In addition we had the annual North Lancashire U15 v South Lancashire U15 fixture as well as our end of Season Town Team Finals Day.
Developments at Old Trafford over the past few years have meant that opportunities have been very limited. I have been delighted at the way the County Club enabled us to stage the Ainsworth Trophy Final in September for the last two years and then the special Lancashire v Yorkshire 90th Birthday Match in May of this year. I am hopeful when the “new” Old Trafford emerges in 2013 that we will have other opportunities to see our county teams play in what we will be a most magnificent ground yet again.
I must add at this point that I understand that the radical changes for the Boys Age Groups have not been replicated for the Girls Squads and their National Finals at Under 13, 15 and 17 will continue. I must also add the hope that just as the Boys Teams will get the chance to play games at Old Trafford – so will the Girls.
Anyway as I have said earlier in this epistle – mustn’t grumble. Although I have found it rather hard to adjust to life back on dry land. I have with effort made changes to my daily food and drink routines. The full breakfast has gone, with just a light snack at lunch and a one course evening meal. The lunchtime glass of Bud and the pre-dinner “tiffin” sessions are no more. We, that is the good lady and myself, are now back on the Nintendo Wii. I can report that since last Monday I have shed 4 pounds and can now get into my trousers with greater ease. One thing I have not felt, however, is guilt. I know that us veterans should still count the “points” as directed by the health police. Heaven knows but the missus and me must have been near the top of the Premier League after our three weeks with the Queen.
You might say that we should take heed of the advice and seek a much healthier option for our next vacation. Well I am pleased to say that we have ignored this option and are now looking at alternatives for a pre-cricket season adventure on the high seas. As this last time all will be revealed on our return. One thing is certain – and that is that I will need to lose considerably more waist inches before trying to get my dinner suit on again.
It was, of course, great to see the family again. This last weekend we have been back in the old routine. It seems ages since I last took Sophie to a football match as I did on Sunday with a drive up to Great Harwood. Her team won 5-3 and she performed heroics in goal, apart from the second goal that is. At the end of the game we returned home with half the football field still attached to her. One diving stop full length into the mud of the penalty area covered her in glory and a thick layer of goo. The Most Important Zoo Owner in the World (MIZO) had to work wonders to clean up Sophie and her kit. On Wednesday I will be in charge of getting Thomas to Old Trafford for the Batting Skill Sets Week Three.
What of the Shakers. You will remember that whilst we were away that a sort of a revival started. That came to an abrupt halt on Saturday down in Colchester. This evening they have a pretty critical match away at Scunthorpe. A win will be a major boost. I would hope to have the result before I upload this epistle to the LCB server.
We had the family for the usual Sunday afternoon meal for the first time for over four weeks. I only had one roast potato ( !! ) unlike everyone else. I asked if they would like to see our photographs. The response was negative so just to be awkward below you can see me with the Queen in Antigua.
Then there is a unique photo taken at Dickenson Bay in Antigua as I performed heroics on this strange gadget which lifted me up into the sky over the sea.
The Heat is On !!!
Seeing this has provoked all sorts of feelings – like of thirst.
Time for a Tesco Moment.
And remember – Mustn’t Grumble.
The Shakers are in the lead 2 goals to one with five minutes remaining.
Game over - Scunthorpe 1 Bury 2 - but still in the bottom four places
Tesco to the Rescue