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Cricket: Lack of promotion puts Parley on sticky wicket
PARLEY chairman Graham Stickland is urging the English Cricket Board to carry out a further review of its Premier League structure.
His comments come just days after Parley were crowned Dorset League champions – a competition which has no provision for promotion from its top division.
The Dorset League was not included in an ECB blueprint for the future of recreational cricket, published in 1997 and implemented in 2000.
It saw a national network of 26 ECB-funded Premier Leagues established across the country – with the closest to Dorset being the Southern Premier.
However, while the neighbouring Hampshire League feeds into the Southern Premier, the winners of the Dorset equivalent have nowhere to go.
Parley, whose second team competes in the Hampshire League, recently opened talks with Southern Premier Bournemouth regarding the possibility of a merger.
Stickland told the Daily Echo: “I think the ECB needs to have a look at the way in which its Premier Leagues operate. They should be able to offer what football does, a route from recreation grounds right the way through.
“Cricket has moved a long way in recent years but it still does not do that. I think it is an issue for people at Lord’s and the ECB as much as it is for people in Dorset and at clubs like Parley.”
A wash-out of all top-flight fixtures on Saturday left Parley in an unassailable position at the summit, the club claiming a third title in five years having been runners-up in the other two.
Stickland added: “Wanting to play at the highest level is an issue for any club which starts to dominate a league and any club which gets in a position of ascendancy in the Dorset League is currently blocked.
"It was the case with Poole a few years ago and for us now. I think it is an issue for cricket generally.”
Discussing their latest title win, he added: “We are delighted. We won it unbeaten and have not lost since the start of June last year so I think it is well deserved. I think it demonstrates our continued dominance of the league.
“Credit should go to a group of players who have played together for a while and have built a team and a good team spirit. It also puts to bed losing the title on the final day of last season and showed the character of the squad. They have shown they are by far and away the best team in the county when it comes to Saturday league cricket.”
Five Parley squad members – Sam Collins, Robbie Gunn, Tom Jacques, Matt Stickland and Sam Thomson – were part of the club’s 2006 National Under-15 Cup-winning team.
Of the 19 players used this season, only captain Roshan Embalagama is over 22, while four under-15s and Dorset under-14 skipper Ollie Shrubsole have featured. Parley’s leading run-scorer is Mark Morley with 906, while Sam Thomson has claimed 26 wickets.
Meanwhile, Stickland confirmed merger talks were continuing with Bournemouth and said working groups had been set up by both clubs to address “one or two key areas”. He said both Parley and Bournemouth would hope to hold EGMs in October.
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