Weather app helps increase play

West Yorkshire skies have become bluer where cricket is concerned, particularly those above the Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League (DHCL). A host of changes have been introduced to help get the game on – including an ingenious ‘Rain Rule’ app for smartphones to help with revised targets, points accrued and deadlines for getting play restarted in all senior cricket games. As a result, an estimated 23 games that would have previously been abandoned were played to a conclusion.

Though many of the problems that affect leagues elsewhere in the country have been less keenly felt in the DHCL, the general consensus via a captains’ discussion in 2013 was that the league could benefit from freshening up – particularly with regard to transition to open-age cricket, looking at ways of increasing player happiness and, crucially, player retention.

An open-consultation process involving club skippers, senior club officials and players was held. Consequently the DHCL introduced the following for 2015: earlier start times, the penalising of legside wides in first-team cricket, the introduction of fielding circles (with a minimum of four fielders in the circle at all times), a maximum of five fielders on the legside at all times and a 15-over maximum rule for bowlers, as well as the downloadable rain app, which has saved scratched heads and jottings on paper and proved a boon for its inventiveness.

Saturday morning workers, who suffer the most with revised start times, were made the focus of a major persuasion initiative, with explanations behind the changes provided.

The signs are positive, according to league general secretary Norman Clee.

“The league is seeing a resurgence of players with better satisfaction reports than last season,” says Clee. “Home clubs have never had the authority to call a game off, that type of decision lies solely with the umpires who must wait for at least one hour before making a final call. High fines for conceding games are in the rules.”

DHCL is also considering implementing some of these changes in second-team cricket – so everyone might be able to welcome a rain check before too long.