League cricket in Yorkshire will get an exciting new-look in 2016 with the creation of Yorkshire Premier Cricket.
It will feature four premier leagues which will all have partner leagues beneath them as the first steps are taken towards creating a Yorkshire pyramid for club cricket. There will be promotion and relegation throughout.
It aims to have the top players and teams playing on the finest grounds in a competition that will showcase the best of league cricket in Yorkshire.
Talks are ongoing with further leagues to join the pyramids for Yorkshire League South, Yorkshire League North and the Bradford League
The Yorkshire Premier Cricket board will oversee the new structure. It will feature two representatives from each of the premier leagues plus Yorkshire Chief Executive Mark Arthur and Yorkshire Cricket Board Executive Director for Partnerships Andrew Watson who are the architects of the new initiative.
Arthur said: “It is right and proper that Yorkshire, as the largest and most successful cricketing county, has a pyramid structure that will enable the best club players to play against each other on a regular basis in the most competitive league structure in the country. From 2016 onwards, there will be no argument as to which club is the best in Yorkshire.”
Watson, who has been a key figure in all the negotiations, said: “After many months of planning and consultation, we are at a most exciting time for league cricket in Yorkshire, but still keeping its history and tradition. League cricket in Yorkshire is woven into the fabric of everyday life and this will enhance it for decades to come.”
The chairman of the Yorkshire Premier Cricket Board, Bradford League Development Officer Alan Birkinshaw said: “A considerable amount of time and effort has gone into the project and we believe it provides the opportunity for the aspirational clubs and players to play at the highest level of eague cricket in Yorkshire.
“It has taken a lot of hard work and co-operation from the leagues involved to create the new set up and we are fully aware that there is a lot more to be done.
“Yorkshire Premier Cricket is the peak of the Yorkshire Pyramid and now there has to be further discussions with the many other leagues across the county as we seek to extend it.
“Nobody will be compelled to join the structure but we hope that leagues and their clubs will see the benefits of having a structure where a small club with big ambitions can have a clear pathway to the top.”
The top team in each of the premier leagues will feature in the end-of-season Champion of Champion play offs. The semi-finals are expected to be held at Scarborough and Headingley with the final to take place in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.
Currently there are two premier leagues operating in England’s largest county, the North Yorkshire South Durham League and the Yorkshire League.
Under the new structure the Yorkshire League will be split into two to form Yorkshire League North and Yorkshire League South.
The North Yorkshire South Durham League will remain unchanged. The fourth place will be filled by the Bradford League which is in the process of securing ECB premier league status.
Yorkshire League North will feature seven members of the old Yorkshire League, York, Scarborough, Harrogate, Hull, Castleford, Driffield and the Yorkshire Academy who will be joined by five teams from its partner league, the York Senior League’.
Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield Collegiate, Sheffield United, Doncaster, Cleethorpes and Appleby Frodingham from the Yorkshire League will be joined by three teams from their partner league, the South Yorkshire League and two from the Central Yorkshire League.
The Bradford League will be at the pinnacle of the pyramid in West Yorkshire where the Central Yorkshire League has voted to be partner league.