Minor Counties could see major overhaul

SUFFOLK are lobbying to turn the Minor Counties Championship into a more meaningful competition.County Cricket Association secretary Toby Pound confirmed this at the annual general meeting held at Bury St Edmunds on Monday.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK are lobbying to turn the Minor Counties Championship into a more meaningful competition.

County Cricket Association secretary Toby Pound confirmed this at the annual general meeting held at Bury St Edmunds on Monday.

Although going through all of last season without losing a game, Suffolk finished runners-up in the Eastern Division to Buckinghamshire.

Pound said: “We probably had a stronger and better balanced team than when we won the division in 2005, but bad weather prevented us claiming a second successive eastern title.

“This brings into sharp focus the current format where each county is only matched against six of its nine divisional opponents.

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“A number of counties, including Suffolk, have been lobbying for a re-structuring into three divisions of seven counties.

“Unfortunately, a majority of counties oppose this, mainly on the grounds that finances would prevent the addition of a 21st county.

“This is bad luck on Huntingdonshire, who are keen to join and would, based on their performances in the County Board competition, be able to hold their own.

“The main problem seems to be that the current Minor Counties treasurer and president is also secretary of Cambridgeshire with strongly held views that Hunts is part of Cambridgeshire.

“If that is the case, one wonders why Hunts has its own cricket board with funding from the English and Welsh Cricket Board.”

Looking ahead to 2007, Pound added: “Finance will dictate whether we can attract another player of the quality of Chris Schofield, who showed with over 500 runs and 30 wickets that he is well worth the second chance that Surrey have offered him in the first class game.”

Suffolk managed to field a side with an average age of 26 or below (excluding their two oldest players) in every match, so received a maximum grant from the MCCA.

Next season and in succeeding seasons the amount allocated from the pool will increase.

Pound said: “Being able to exclude two players from the calculation fortunately means that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of captain Phil Caley, who has completed 25 consecutive seasons in the Minor Counties, 14 of them as skipper and over 200 Championship appearances.

“Continuity has been an important ingredient in the recent success of the county team. It is therefore pleasing that we move forward into 2007 with Kevin Brooks as director of cricket.

“Kevin has been in charge of team affairs since 1997. Since then there has been a steady improvement and in the past two years, that improvement has translated into tangible rewards.

“Kevin will be the first to acknowledge the help he has received from coach Andy Brown and Phil Caley and it is important for our future success that we maintain that team in place, certainly until Phil feels that he is ready to step down as captain.”

Suffolk made £6,629 profit in the year to September 30 (£1,509 in 2005), but this was affected by grants being received in the time scale.

It cost over £54,000 in match expenses for all age groups despite player and officials' expenditure reducing from £33,241 to £22,968.

Income from donations and collections decreased from £7,860 to £1,780 after Suffolk benefited from playing Glamorgan at Bury St Edmunds in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in May 2005.

Tony Warrington stood down as vice chairman although he will continue administrating second XI games and player registrations.

Officers elected: president: Cyril Perkins, chairman: Norman Atkins, vice chairman Chris Watson, hon. secretary: Toby Pound, hon. Treasurer: Neil Hammond.

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