SECRETARY Tim Helliwell issued an upbeat bulletin on the state of the Spenser Wilson Halifax Cricket League at last night’s annual general meeting.
A special presentation was also made to Andrew Mitchell, an umpire for 50 years, at Pellon Social Club.
Numerous sports are being hit by declining numbers of participants and Helliwell admitted the league and clubs faced “huge challenges” and that more matches than ever before had been defaulted in 2018.
He praised those working extremely hard to keep cricket alive in their localities but said there were “many positives to encourage us all.”
He added: “The Halifax Cricket League expects to have 31 Saturday clubs in 2019 with Augustinians CC joining us and it is more than likely that 30 of those 31 will turn two Saturday teams out – you never know it could be all 31.
“The Halifax Sunday League had 26 clubs in 2018 and is likely to have as many if not more in 2019.
“This is fantastic in a small community in and around Halifax. We still have many young people playing – not as many as we would perhaps like – but still a great number who are learning to love cricket.
“In addition you only have to look at the people who have turned up to watch our cup finals, our junior finals, the inaugural under-19 T20 final,the league T20 match against a Yorkshire X1 and all our games spread round the area to know that there is still keen interest in our fantastic game.”
He said new disciplinary rules had worked well, the league’s new website would bring many benefits in 2019 and the Junior League was the most pro-active in the region.
Mitchell, who is unable to attend the league dinner at The Venue, Barkisland on Friday week when former England player Phil DeFreitas is the guest speaker, received the Frank Stallard Bowl for outstanding service to the league.
As well as being the longest-serving umpire, Mitchell is also the umpires appointments secretary, a role he has fulfilled for 29 years in two stints.
League chairman Anthony Briggs said Mitchell did “a sterling job.”
Greetland were re-elected by 28-0 and Cullingworth by 23-5 with one club choosing not to vote.
It was revealed that Golcar had been admitted to the Halifax Sunday League by 17-2 in another vote conducted electronically.
The Halifax League will have a new ball supplier next season with Readers taking over from Dukes after trials in middle section matches in 2018.
The balls will cost £13.25 - 25p more than last year - but Briggs said officials were confident clubs would be satisfied with the switch. Left over Dukes balls can be used in second and third team matches.
Treasurer Bob Airey presented his 15th set of accounts and announced a profit of £1,416 on the year in spite of fines being down £493 and the Crossley Shield final and T20 finals being held on rare days of poor weather during a memorable summer.
Spenser Wilson are continuing as league sponsors for another year but a backer for the T20 competition is being sought.
All the current officials were re-elected and Oxenhope’s Keith Yates was added to the executive as website officer.