THIS season’s final cricket league tables could have a rather unfair look to them, according to Bletchley Town captain James Clark who has seen most of his team’s games affected by rain this summer.
Shenley Church End were the only lucky side to get a fixture played on Saturday as the showers covered virtually the whole region, rendering pitches across Milton Keynes and the neighbouring counties unplayable.
But while their Four Counties League game at Bromham – which Shenley won by 105 runs – went ahead, hundreds of eager cricketers in the city were left with another day sat in the clubhouse, wondering if the British weather will ever improve.
And that time spent sitting around has allowed for clubs and players to give some thought to the system currently adopted to deal with the inevitable problems of games being cancelled or abandoned.
Although points are shared equally if games fail to get under way, there is some controversy over how matches are scored if play is cut short during those matches, particularly if one side is in a commanding position.
This is a debate brewing in the Cherwell League, and Bletchley skipper Clark says his side have already come out on the unfortunate end of one or two points decisions this season. So he wants the rules to be changed.
He said: “We have had six out of our nine matches affected in some way by the weather which has resulted in overs being lost during the match.
“The biggest issue is the way the rain affects the points system in the Cherwell League and something desperately needs to be done about it.
“Every captain I have spoken to has inferred that whoever bats first in these matches tends to score plenty more points because the game does not ‘finish’ which means that the toss can play an even bigger role than it should do.
“There is no recourse if you are chasing and end up having your innings curtailed by the elements. For example, we would have beaten Horspath a few weeks back needing just 34 to win from eight overs, but the rain intervened and they ended up with more points than us.
“We do not have a ‘Duckworth-Lewis’ method or any other calculation as to how to work out what a side should be chasing in the event of a rain reduced match, so it puts the side batting second at a huge disadvantage if the rain intervenes.”
If Cherwell League officials listen to the concerns of clubs like Bletchley then perhaps those rules can be altered in the future, but for the time being players will simply have to put up with the frustrations associated with the sport they love.
But it is proving to be one of – if not the most – disappointing summers for cricket in living memory, with clubs powerless to prevent the majority of games being washed out.
In the Four Counties League, some clubs have seen almost all of their fixtures abandoned. Indeed the irony of Shenley’s victory on Saturday is that it was just their second game of the season not to be called off due to the wet conditions.
“The rain has consistently interrupted matches and made it a hard season for grounds people all over the region,” said Clark, in his 18th season in senior cricket.
“This is where facilities can play a part, because in some weathers, there would be no chance of play at some of the lesser grounds across the city.
“Most of the bigger clubs in the area, including Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Great Brickhill, have covers and spend copious amounts of time on the ground to make it fit – the players end up helping out on match days as well which is almost becoming part of our warm up as it happens so regularly!”