League revamp hits mark in Cheshire

The Cheshire Women and Girls’ Cricket League’s (CWGL) transformation has been as effective as it has been dramatic. In 2004, seven teams in one league were going nowhere fast. Little scope was offered for developing juniors – or providing enough cricket for those who wanted it.

After consultation a two-tier system was introduced: four sides in each, playing 30-over games on Sundays, with a midweek T20 league and knockout variant. These 30-over games soon became 40-over affairs, the longer format providing more of a challenge, especially for those pursuing county cricket. The vital issue of encouraging junior involvement was addressed with their own league.

As a result, the CWGL now reports not only a higher-quality level of cricket, but new administrators and new teams. It now has 16 sides, 10 with junior sections.

With one of the higher player-satisfaction rates in the land (85 per cent) – surely the acid test of any revamp – it is proof positive re-organisation has paid off handsomely and arguably saved a league that appeared in terminal decline.

“A change was needed to allow cricket to grow, says league chairman Sarah McCann. “A few clubs were concerned about the switch to a Sunday and the increased overs, but this has now been proven to work.

“Clubs are confident games will go ahead. They are encouraged to develop young players, ensuring their future.”

The fact that a recent proposal to return to 30 overs was voted down suggests a healthy appetite, and one that seems to be growing. The league now even has its own newsletter, The Dazzler.

Across the board, there is a fresh feel. Conceded games are a rarity and another T20 competition has been mooted for Fridays – ditto end-of-season festivals and an out-of-season indoor six-a-side league. “Everyone knows they are part of a well-run, organised, considerate league that provides opportunities for everyone,” adds McCann.