Since last September the HCB, HCL chairman Denis Emery and other local cricket organisations have been asking players what they want at a series of workshops across the county, through Cricket Unleashed, a nationwide ECB initiative to increase participation launched last year, writes the Daily Echo's Senior Sports Reporter, Simon Walter.
“We need to be giving people what they want not what we think they want,” said Tony Oxley.
“As a result of the surveys we’ve come up with a few absolute must-dos; games start and finish too late, they take too long and there’s too much travel.
“We’re talking to players during this season and asking them what their ideal Saturday would look like.
“What we’re hearing is that players don’t want a choice between playing cricket or attending an event in the evening - they want to be able to do both.
“Finishing games at 8pm is putting a lot of people off.
“We’ve suggested starting at 1pm instead of 2pm and reducing overs, especially at lower levels.
“Kids are having to make the jump from 20-over to 42-over matches and not getting as much involvement.
“No wonder they are turned off!
“My focus would be the bottom division, because that’s where we’re losing most teams.”
Of the 30 teams that have dropped out of the HCL in the last 12 months, 13 were in Regional Division Four.
“At that level I think games should be reduced to 35 overs-a-side and increase in increments of five as you go up the pyramid, with County One matches being 50 overs,” continued Oxley.
“I would also regionalise all of the HCL with no more than ten teams in each division to reduce travel.
“Organising such a restructure would be an administrative nightmare but it would help solve these issues.”
The HCL has two new men’s teams so is 28 down on last year overall.
Teams that have dropped out of the HCL since May 2016
County Two: Hobos
County Three North: Flamingo, South Newton.
County Four South: Bidbury, Peartree.
County Four North: Hurstbourne Priors, Old Alresford.
Regional One South: Friends.
Regional One West: Exbury.
Regional Two West: Alderholt, Winton III.
Regional Two South: Bosham.
Regional Two NorthUpper Clatford.
Regional Three North: Overton III.
Regional Three West: Camelot, Lytchett.
Regional Three South: Old N & Highfield IV.
Regional Four NW: Ampfield & North B III, Otterbourne II, Shrewton III, Wherwell II, Winterslow II.
Regional Four SW: Dorset Cricketers, Ellingham IV, Fawley IV, Suttoners III.
Regional Four NE: St Cross Symondians VI, Whitchurch II.
Regional Four SE: Portchester III, Sarisbury Athletic VI.
* What do you think ? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. The 'crease' will be happy to publish constructive ideas and open a dialogue - all vital to the HCL's future planning.