Club Cricket in Yorkshire thrives under the pyramid system
— 14 January 2021
Club cricket in Yorkshire has a long-standing reputation for its high standard, with many an old tale of famous Test Match stars plying their trade as overseas players in the various leagues.
Whilst many things have changed over the last 20 years, including the rise of a digital era and a whole host of new leisure activities on offer, the quality of club cricket certainly hasn’t. One factor that has helped to ensure continued improvement of competition was the introduction of the pyramid structure in 2016. Bringing together the four Premier Leagues in the county, along with the feeder leagues underneath them, the structure has pitted the best teams in Yorkshire against each other.
The inaugural ‘Champion of Champions’ final took place under the sunny skies of Abu Dhabi, with more recent finals hosted at Emerald Headingley.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic halted the competition in 2020, hopes are high for a more normal 2021 season which will see the best two teams going head-to-head for the ultimate glory come September.
Current ‘Champion of Champions’ Sheriff Hutton Bridge, who claimed their throne only a matter of weeks after Ben Stokes’s ‘Miracle of Headingley’ on the same ground, will be hoping to defend their title. Competition looks set to be high once again, with beaten 2019 finalists Woodlands aiming to go one step further. Two-time winners Wakefield Thornes will be looking to mount yet another challenge along with a whole host of other teams vying for the top spot.
Check out all of the key statistics from the first four years of the Premier League Play-offs, pulled together by the Chairman of the Yorkshire Premier League Management Board Alan Birkinshaw, via the below link:
Birkinshaw, who is also the Communications Officer for the Bradford League, said: “We’re very pleased with how the pyramid structure has gone so far. From the drawing board to where we are now, it has been tremendous to see the amount of progress made. One of the biggest things we’ve seen is a tremendous standard of cricket, particularly in the play-offs.
“There’s been some really tight finishes in the finals, not least in 2019 when Sheriff Hutton Bridge beat Woodlands by two, so we’ve kept up the tradition of Headingley being a place for dramatic games of cricket.
“It’s been nice as time has moved on to see leagues merge together to become part of the structure, starting with the Bradford League and Central Yorkshire League then Yorkshire League North and the York Senior League and more recently in the south between Yorkshire League South and the South Yorkshire League to form the Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League. They’ve been quite significant elements. We’ve also seen some huge progress for individual clubs which has been fantastic to see.
“We’ve also seen notable success stories with players getting noticed by Yorkshire on the back of club performances. None less so than Jonny Tattersall, who played for Harrogate in 2016. Harrogate lost in one of the semi-finals, but Jonny had done so well that season that Yorkshire re-engaged him, and he’s gone on to be the county’s main wicketkeeper-batsman. We’re always pleased to see that happening.
“Playing at Emerald Headingley is certainly a massive prize for clubs, particularly now the new Emerald Stand is complete. It’s a fantastic arena to play at. The reaction from the players who get to play at Headingley is fantastic. Andy Fogarty always looks after us with a good centre wicket, with the pitch used in 2019 being the same one used during the Cricket World Cup at Headingley.
“We are certainly hoping for a more normal season this year, with all leagues able to have promotion and relegation and the play-offs to be held again. It really gives the teams pushing for championships something to aspire to, the chance to prove that they’re the best in Yorkshire.”