A new era for local league cricket arrives this weekend, weather permitting of course, with the start of the new Greater Manchester Cricket League.
The league, comprising of 53 clubs and 140 senior teams in 14 divisions, has brought together clubs from leagues all around the Greater Manchester area including the Lancashire County League, Bolton League, Bolton Association, The Central Lancashire League and The North Manchester League.
With a Premier League sitting at the top of the pyramid and promotion and relegation throughout the structure it is an exciting time for league cricket in the region.
Gone are the days of playing against the same teams and same players year after year; which had brought about something of a staleness and saw players drifting away from the game.
Local leagues were losing top talent to the Cheshire League and Liverpool Competition, leagues that already operated a pyramid structure, and it’s hoped this new format for Greater Manchester will put a stop to that.
The first few seasons will see four clubs promoted and four clubs relegated from divisions of 12 which will see clubs find their natural level.
It also means clubs will have something to compete for right up to the end of the season, something that has been lacking in recent times.
A regional Twenty20 competition has been organised to take place in May and June along with junior divisions starting at Under 9 level.
Many of the cricket clubs in Salford have signed up to the new structure with Clifton being the only local side to go straight into the Premier League.
Division 1 will see Roe Green, Swinton Moorside, Winton and Worsley all battling for promotion to the Premier League and also setting up some great local competitive cricket.
The local sides all have 2nd and 3rd teams competing further down the structure along with Irlam who are rebuilding after some difficult times.
With a groundbreaking season ahead it is hoped that league cricket can become stronger, attracting more youngsters to take up the sport and creating good local competitive cricket.
The league steering committee, led by Martin Kay, has done a fantastic job, and after many months of hard work the season is almost upon us.
With all the local Salford clubs having fantastic facilities it’s a great time to get out and watch some cricket.