Club cricket in Yorkshire is set for a radical overhaul for the start of the 2016 season with the creation of Yorkshire Premier Cricket.
The new structure 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.
The overhaul 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.
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.
The JCT600 Bradford League will fill one of the four premier league’s, while the Central Yorkshire League has voted to be partner them.
Under the new structure the Yorkshire League will be split into two to form Yorkshire League North and Yorkshire League South.
The Yorkshire League will be splitv into north and south regions, while the North Yorkshire South Durham League make up the fourth premier 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.”
Yorkshire Premier Cricket Board chairman, 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 league 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.”