League ‘fighting losing battle’

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THE Border Cricket League’s (BCL) future could be decided at a crunch meeting next Thursday.

And it appears the organisation has also lost its feeder status to the National League, following last Friday’s Cricket Scotland announcement that the country’s top divisions will be regionalised.

Efforts are now being made to recruit new clubs after last week’s BCL AGM heard St Boswells and Kelso officials indicate they intend to follow Langholm’s lead and leave the 116-year-old division.

Manderston are considering joining for the first time, but if no other clubs can be recruited the future looks bleak for one of the oldest cricket leagues in Scotland.

Wishing to move to the East of Scotland or Alnwick and District associations, Kelso said they could be persuaded to stay if three or four more teams are added to the BCL.

But Kelso’s Trevor Bowring told the meeting: “With only six teams we would only get 10 league games per season and that is not enough for our young players.

“We have a problem in that we have a mix of older and junior players, but nothing in between.

“Two of our talented junior players have already indicated they would leave the club if we remain in the current Border League, with another likely to follow. We need to provide these youngsters with competitive and meaningful cricket.”

Richard Young, of St Boswells, added: “We had a meeting with the players and they decided they would prefer to join the East League. We are an ambitious club and want to join a league with promotion and relegation.”

Gala, Hawick, Melrose and Selkirk officials all want the league to carry on, even if it means only six teams compete for the title this year until more clubs can be recruited.

Selkirk’s Grant Kinghorn said: “There is a lot of history in this league and we at Selkirk do not want to see it go down the drain.”

Fellow Selkirk member Alex Massie added: “We should not be hasty in killing off a league that has been run for 116 years.”

When suggested that Cricket Scotland step in and order clubs to join the Border League, the national body’s head of community development, Steve Paige, said: “It is up to clubs where they play, but we can advise them which league would suit them best.”

He added that sides in the Alnwick and District League could be approached, while also suggesting each Border teams could play each other three times to extend the season.

Kelso’s Dougie Wilson told Paige: “The Border League has seen Stuart Chalmers and Ryan Flannigan come through and play for the national team in recent years. Scotland would miss out on those cricketers if the league goes.

“But I think we are fighting a losing battle.”

Mr Bowring said Border teams wishing to join the East League – which includes teams as far north as Stirling and Fife – would likely be placed into a regionalised division for sides south of Edinburgh.