3rd January 2014

 


The Hampshire Cricket League - then and now

 

As a new cricketing year dawns, it is perhaps interesting to have a look back and see how much, or indeed how little has changed in the Hampshire Cricket League overs the last few decades.

To do this a "snapshot" season of 1991 has been chosen - some 23 years ago. Lots has changed - but lots has not. Clubs have come and gone as have players but there are many familiar Clubs, players and officials still going strong.

Lets start by looking a the structure of the league as a whole......

 

Teams

The 1991 HCL season featured 180 clubs spread across 11 divisions. The county division structure from CD1 to CD4 is very similar to how it is today. The lower divisions however we simply split into West and East rather than the 4-way split that currently features. For 2014 the HCL will feature 342 teams - an increase of 74% over the period. Assuming, that to run a league team a club needs a squad of at least 16 players, then the number of people playing league cricket on a regular basis has risen from circa 3,150 in 1992 to 5,470 today!

For interest, the league format in 1992 was a follows:

CD1   CD2
   
Longparish   Easton & MW
Liphook and Ripsley   Redlynch & Hale
Hambledon   Wellow & Plaitford
Rowledge   Botley Simmarians
Sparsholt   Bournemouth II
Basics- Pollhill   Sarisbury Athletic
Bashley Rydal   Portsmouth Enterprise
Paultons   AWE Tadley
Romsey   Amport
Purbrook   Old Symodian BR
Lyndhurst & Deanery   Rotherwick
Burridge   Ampfield
Hartley Witney   Aerostructures
Cormorants   Basingstoke & NH
Old Basing   Fareham & Crofton
Portsmouth CS   Calmore Sports II
Portsmouth II   Antelope
Poole   Hook and Newnham
   
   
CD3A   CD3B

   

Leckford

 

BAT

South Wilts II

 

Flamingos

Lymington II

 

Waterlooville II

Winterslow

 

Ellingham

Hyde

 

Bass Alton

New Milton II

 

Esso Fawley

Frimchett

 

Salisbury Wanderers

Hursely Park II

 

Old Tauntonians II

Hungerford II

 

Havant II

Portsmouth III

 

Petersfield II

Monksbrook

 

Denmead

Steep

 

Alton II

Crown Taverners

 

Andover II

Castle

 

Compton & Shawford

Hythe & Dibden

 

US Portsmouth II

Poole II

 

Botley Simmarians II

Gosport Borough II

 

Fareham & Crofton II

Winchester II

 

Milford (Wilts)

   

   

CD4

 

East Div 1

Bashley II

 

Emsworth

Purbrook II

 

Ropley

Southern Gas

 

Havant III

Old Edwardians

 

Fair Oak

Liphook & Ripsley II

 

Hartley Witney II

St Cross

 

Liss

Mottisfont

 

Hamble

Bentworth

 

Crondall

Trojans II

 

Chandlers Ford

Bedhampton

 

Old Basing II

Locks Heath

 

Sarisbury II

Whitchurch

 

Burridge II

Hambledon II

 

Bitterne

Dogmersfield

 

Four Marks

Oakley

 

Rowledge II

Redlynch & Hale II

 

Portsmouth CS II

Twyford

 

Basingstoke & NH II

Netley Sports

 

Portsmouth IV

   

   

East Div 2

 

East Div 3

Porchester

 

IBM South Hants

Easton & MW II

 

Wickham

Chawton

 

Anterlope II

Otterbourne StM

 

West Hill

Basics-Polhill II

 

Cowplain

Rowner

 

RAE Farnborough

Hendy Ford Mansbridge

 

Crown Taverners II

Medsted

 

Hamble II

Hayling Island

 

Waterlooville III

Cormorants II

 

Chandlers Ford II

Corinthians

 

Alton III

Titchbourne Park

 

St Cross II

Bishops Waltham

 

Purbrook III

Portsmouth Enterprise II

 

Eaton Sports

Hook & Newnham II

 

Titchbourne Park II

Old Symondian BR II

 

Frimchett II

Fareham & Crofton III

 

Compton & Shawford II

Petersfield III

 

Botley Simmarians III

   

   

West Div 1

 

West Div 2

   

Romsey II

 

Wooton St Lawrence

Penton

 

Bramshaw

Fordingbridge

 

St Mary Bourne

Bishopstone

 

Ashurst

Littleton

 

Southampton Travellers

Spencers Wood

 

Burghfield

IBM Hursley

 

Ringwood

Lyndhurst & Deanery II

 

Reading Civil Service

Longparish II

 

Woodgreen

AWE Tadley II

 

Burghclere

Ramsdell

 

Esso Fawley II

Donnington

 

Godshill

Sulhamstead

 

Sparsholt II

East Woodhay

 

West End

ITW Basingstoke

 

Rotherwick II

Downton

 

Amport II

Paultons II

 

Fanum

Ordnance Survey

 

Linkenholt

   

   

West Div 2

   

   

Cadnam

   

BAT II

   

Wellow & Plaitford II

   

Porton Camp

   

Steeple Langford

   

Tadley Hobos

   

Wherwell

   

Braemore

   

Griffin Sports

   

Oakley II

   

Ashford Hill

   

East Woodhay II

   

Southampton Travellers II

   

Hythe & Dibden II

   

Andover III

   

Michelmarsh & Timsbury

   

Worthies

   

Of course there will be many unfamiliar Clubs listed above, and likewise there are many clubs notable for their absence. In 1991the New Forest cricket league had yet to be absorbed into the HCL structure so many clubs locally familiar to Sway were not in the HCL - Hordle, Pylewell, Christchurch, Beaulieu etc. In fact is was not until 2001 that the Hampshire Combination Cricket League and the New Forest Cricket League were absorbed into the HCL. This is only part of the story however behind the expansion of the HCL. Local geography as well as Club ambitions have drawn teams into the HCL from surrounding counties:

Back in 1992, there were 17 "foreign" teams in the HCL. Of these 7 were from Wiltshire, 4 from Berkshire, 3 from Dorset and 3 from Surrey.

Today there are now no less than 50 teams playing in the Hampshire Cricket League that are based outside of the County. The extra-county teams in 2014 are split as follows:

Wiltshire

23

Dorset

18

West Sussex

4

Isle of Wight

3

Berkshire

2

Unlike the Dorset Cricket League, the HCL is able to offer ambitious clubs the prospect of promotion into the the Southern League so it could be speculated that this is a motivation behind some ambitious Dorset-based teams entering sides into the HCL. This can only be part of the reason however as 14 more teams have joined from Wiltshire, despite this county offering potential promotion to the West of England Premier League. Perhaps local geography and the HCL's reputation as being a very well run and competitive league has drawn in sides in the border zones.

Another trend that is very noticeable is the decline in "1 team" clubs and a corresponding rise in clubs with multiple teams. Whilst there are of course exceptions, it is much the case these days that success is built on a Club's colts sections - and as a result Clubs need and want multiple teams to be able to offer progression to youngsters. Of course the advent of Clubmark, and Focus Clubs has also had the effect of channelling resources into clubs with colts sections. Back in 1991, 82 of the teams (45%) in the HCL were one-club teams and there were only three clubs with three teams and one with a fourth eleven. In 2014, despite there being 74% more teams, the number of "1-club" teams had fallen to 65 (19%). Next season there will be 44 clubs with two teams, 37 with 3 teams,  15 clubs with 4 teams, 6 clubs with 5 teams and two clubs with a whopping 6 league teams in the HCL.

 

Clubs

The list of clubs playing in 1991 contains many names that are no longer with us - either folded, changed names, merged or gone to play in other leagues. Information on some is patch at best so any corrections or updates much appreciated.

 

UPDATED NOVEMBER 2017 - thanks to Simon Jones

Club

Notes

 

 

Basics-Polhill

Merged with Hook and Newnham CC in early 90s. 1st XI now in SEPL. 2nd XI in CD1

Lyndhurst & Deanery

Merged with Ashurst to be Ashurst & Lyndhurst - HCL debut in 2014. Southampton based Deanery were in the post war period one of the strongest teams in all of Hampshire producing many Hampshire players. Their ground in St Marys was once shared with Southampton FC but is now housing.

Botley Simmarians

Merged with Hyde Ramblers in 1994 to be Winchester Cricket Club Krakatoa Simmarians and played in SEPL. http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/NATIONAL/ENG/LEAGUES/SPCL/CLUB_DIRECTORY/DIVISION_THREE/WINCHESTER1.html

 

Winchester KS entered Wilds Sports Winchester T20 League – last season 2013:

http://w.fixtureslive.com/comp/36986/table/WILDS-SPORTS-20-20-LEAGUE-DIVISION-1-2013

Portsmouth Enterprise

Via merger, now Portsmouth & Southsea

Old Simmodians BR

Merged to be St Cross Simmodians?

Aerostructures

Now Follands Hamble

Antelope

Connection with original Hampshire & Saints ground? Merged with Castle to form Antelope & Castle, moved to Doncaster Farm, changed name to Eastleigh and merged with Otterbourne to form Eastleigh & Otterbourne

Frimchett

Surrey club. Merged with friendly side Frimley Green CC?

Monksbrook

Merged with Flamingo in 1995 - thanks to David Wright for the information

Castle

Hampshire County Council team. Sports ground alas now football only and home to Winchester Castle FC.

Bass Alton

Originally Courage brewery works team, merged with Alton in 90s. Now know as The Brewers

Salisbury Wanderers Merged with South Wilts?
Milford (Wilts) Not Milford (I’Anson)), team played at Laverstock & Ford Social Club, grass square is now main football pitch, phoenix club Laverstock & Ford play on non-turf pitch on other side of facility
Southern Gas Played at Chestnut Avenue Eastleigh.
Old Edwardians King Edwards old boys. Played at Southampton Sports Centre
Dogmersfield Now play in the l'Anson 3-counties league
Netley Sports No longer playing. Ground at Royal Victoria Park Netley now home to Sarisbury VI on artificial wicket.
Crondall From Farnham in Surrey. Now friendlies only
Bitterne Now friendlies only
Four Marks Withdrew from RD1N during 2013 season
Cormorants Merged with Portsmouth Civil Service & United Services in 2000
Corinthians Fareham based
RAE Farnborough Now known as Cody CC and play in the  l'Anson 3-counties league
Eaton Sports Played at South Ham, Basingstoke
Fordingbridge Folded?
Spencers Wood  
Sulhamstead Now play in Berkshire League
Ordnance Survey Folded in 2012
Wooton St Lawrence  
West End Used to play at Bishopstoke Sports Ground
Fanum Used to play in Sherbourne St John
Linkenholt Switched to friendlies only in 2010
Porton Down Folded but cricket square appears intact on government research campus
Griffin Sports Basingstoke based. Midland Bank connection?
Worthies Merged with Malmsbury who play in Wiltshire league – hadn’t heard this: ground located at now Eversley Park, new cricket nets but no square remaining, home to Kings Worthy FC and Worthies Sports and Social Club, Hampshire played at the ground e.g Malcolm Marshall Benefit 1987 crowd of 1000! http://www.thewssc.co.uk/about-us/

 

Not much remains of the The Deanery - one of the most important local sites for for football and cricket. Now a housing estate in the heart of St Marys.

Players

A perusal of the averages for 1991 provides a few familiar local names.

Colin James of Paultons featured in the CD1 batting averages in 1991 and was still playing Southern League cricket 19 years later in 2013.

Charlie Forward of OT & Romsey [who the author once caught with a diving catch on the boundary in an inter-house school game circa 1984 causing admonishment from the great man for "over-celebrating"] is well known for his amazing achievement of having scored a 100 league centuries, most of which were in the Southern League and is the second highest run scorer of all time is the SEPL.

Charles Forward - unrivalled local run merchant

Rosebowl coach Chris Wheeler popped up in the CD2 batting averages with ageless run-merchant Mike Shutler of Hyde well placed in the CD3A batting averages and still had the energy to plunder 33 against Sway II in 2013 before being caught by Luke Lewis - who was born 8 years after the 1991 season!

The star bowler in CD3 was Fawley legend Lawrence Read who plundered an astonishing 42 wickets at an average of 8.14. Such was the achievement, Read earnt a write up where it was speculated that he might "retire at the top"...yet 21 years later he is still playing, helping Fawley's youngsters in the Tony Woodhouse Cup and occupying his trademark number 11 position.

In a remarkable feat of longevity Alan Hayward of Hyde has opened the batting since the Club's formation in 1975. In the 1991 season he racked up 741 runs at 67.36 in CD3. In 2013 he still made the RD1 batting averages with a still very average of 40.11 - despite falling for just 8 to Sam Nailor in the Sway clash.

Another remarkable survivor is Hambledon's classy veteran Ian Turner. One of the few players in the league with first class experience (14 1st class appearances for Hampshire) he ran amok in 1991 taking 25 wickets at just 5.6 in CD1. 22 years later he made 6 appearances as a batsman for Hambledon in Div 1 of the SEPL - proof if any needed that form is fleeting, but class permanent.

Ian Turner - ex Hampshire CCC

Mark Emm made both the batting & bowling averages in East Div 1 for Hamble whist down in West 2 and is still bowling in the CD divisions. Dave Naish was racking up the runs for Woodgreen and was still playing for then in CD4 against Sway 1st XI in 2012.

Dave Naish - has bat, will open

In West 3, Braemore veteran Steve Marlow made the batting averages and 21 years later was still opening the batting with his brother Shaun against Sway II. 

Braemore brothers Shaun & Steve Marlow sporting  a matching pair of magnificent late 80s barnets

In 1991 a youthful looking Paul Kemp, skipper of Bashley II collected the CD4 trophy and two decades later he is still out there, currently for their 4th XI.

A youthful looking Paul Kemp collects the silverware

Also at Bashley, Don Read, father of young quickie Sean was well up in the CD4 bowling averages with an average of a wicket every 11 runs. Don still turns out on occasions and does umpiring duties.

 
Don Read - included not least due to top draw slug-balancing act.

With the ball, irritatingly accurate Lymington veteran Chris Noble took 17 wickets at 13.47 for their second eleven and must surely have taken hundreds of league wickets now.

 
Chris Noble of Lymington
 
 

Officials

Without doubt one of the primary reasons for the continued success of the HCL is the continuity and experience on its management board and committees. By 1991 Colin Savage had already been the League's chairman since its formation in 1973 and is still a Life President in 2014 as well as being secretary of the Hampshire Cricket Board. With 40 years of service to local cricket someone really should nominate Colin for an MBE! Steward Frazier is another long standing committee member - having fixture secretary since 1983 - some 30 years of crunching the numbers, dates etc.

Colin Savage - a lifetime in Hampshire cricket

 

Rules

Like football, part of the enduring appear of cricket is that the rules have remained fundamentally the same. The HCL is no different and follows the MCC Laws of Cricket. There have been however tweaks in the rules governing the HCL's competitions and the most well known is a reduction in the number of overs allowed per bowler. Back in 1991, bowlers could bowl 12 overs meaning that a skipper need only deploy 4 bowlers, with one only bowling 6 overs. The current 10 over limit means of course that at least 5 bowlers.

There has also been a tweak to the points scoring system - in 1991 there was a basic 10 points available for a win compared with 12 today. Hence the maximum score was 22 against 24 today. Presumably this change marginally increases the incentive for skippers to try and win a game. Back in 1991 there was only one ball being used for all games - so in the 45 over Championship Division games the ball may  have been in quite a state after 90 overs where of course today there is a new ball for each innings.

Reflecting the huge increase in clubs with multiple teams, it is now permitted for clubs to have 2 teams in the same division - something which was not allowed in 1991 - no doubt leading to frustration with promotions being denied.

The biggest area of change relates to issues designed to keep players, especially colts safe. Back in 1991 there were no restrictions on the number of overs bowled by youngsters or indeed the minimum age of players. These days there are comprehensive rules to protect youngsters and in the case of young fast bowlers to protect them from the lower back bones issues that were not well understood until recently. There have also been clarification on the bowling of short and full balls removing these potential grey areas from being umpire's call - increasing protection and reducing the potential for arguments.

 

The Future

Given it's current strength is is hard to see anything other than a bright future for the HCL. There are leagues in the UK that are struggling and some have floated ideas such as moving to a 20/20 format but generally speaking most clubs are likely to continue to be happy with the current 45/42 over format. Any longer would cause player availability issues is the morning and the evenings of course brings light issues - hence the current format is the longest game of "proper" cricket you can realistically get in an afternoon.

Crystal ball gazing, what might change of the coming decades...... Well although there remain beacons of excellence, it is likely that the decline of friendly cricket will sadly continue. This could open up the possibility of some forms of additional Sunday or Midweek competition - despite declines the Dorset Cricket League still has 35 teams playing in its Sunday league and this may appeal to some players who for example cannot play on Saturdays due to work or other commitments - but still want competitive cricket.

The trend away from cricket in schools is also likely to continue with clubs become the primary cricket source of action for youngsters. As such, those clubs that are able to offer excellent colts set ups and coaching will continue to attract lots of youngsters providing a long term source of players for their adult teams. Correspondingly, small one-team clubs or those with no colts setups are likely to find the going tougher in terms of player recruitment and suffer a relative decline within the league structure.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a solution be found to issues surrounding the Dorset Cricket League - and that such a solution might involve ultimately a merger with the HCL. Due to the lack of a promotion to the SEPL the Dorset League needs to try and meet the needs of its more ambitious and larger clubs such as Parley and the haemorrhaging of teams to the HCL could be stopped if via merger a SEPL promotion place became available either directly or via a play-off. There are of course many reasons why this may not happen!

In the short term, let's all wish for a dry, warm and cricketful 2014!