It has been a long hard road for them but the fruits of labour are definitely beginning to seed for the men behind the major changes currently bedding in to North West cricket. Theirs has been a difficult task not least because of our reluctance to embrace anything new, let alone wholesale restructuring but without doubt the pace at which things have moved forward to date has been very impressive. To be fair, everyone seems to have bought into developments despite many still having reservations and that has allowed the new committees to forge ahead with their plans on schedule.
I also think it is important to point out that all of what has gone on has been borne out of an acceptance by those who have run the sport here for 20 years or more that things had to change. At no stage did they show any reluctance to allow this to happen, indeed the fact of the matter is that this is their baby and they deserve enormous credit for putting the process in place. Anyone who has read the last couple of articles will have noticed that they raised a few issues regarding the North West's standing as a Union in the body that is Cricket Ireland.
Those issues are real to the cricket community here but on no account were they intended as personal on any individuals; the simple fact of the matter is that total transparency is required from all parties including, maybe even especially Cricket Ireland, if this thing is to work. The North West has bought into something that they weren't entirely convinced about but they did so on the basis that it was for the good of the sport here. That trust has to be reciprocated in full, glorious transparency if it isn't to be lost. That is the top and bottom line.
From the original seven strong “think tank” then we have now evolved to an Operations Directorate, a Cricket Operations Committee, Development Committee, Finance Committee a Disciplinary Committee and a wholly independent Protest and Appeals Committee. In total there are around 40 people involved in the various guises, the vast majority of whom are completely new to this level of participation. From having seen what they do at pretty close quarters I can tell you that they boast several very striking attributes both collectively and individually.
Firstly, the fact that the majority are current players means that they have a real feel for what they're trying to do. That doesn't mean they have all the answers but they certainly know a lot of the problems. Secondly, they take their responsibilities very seriously. There are some who drive 30 miles to meetings after a days work; others with young families and yet their commitment has been total. No decisions, no matter how small are taken without discussing with other committee members, even if only by email, phone or text. By far their greatest achievement however is that these folk are affiliated to a club, yet never once has club loyalty got in the way of any issue. They have dealt with starrings, scorecards and grounds issues amongst a host of other matters but club affiliation is left outside the door every single time and the correct decision has been reached. Rules have been enforced not because anyone gets a feeling of superiority or satisfaction but because they are the rules and that isn't always easy.
The committees know their work is only starting of course and they will be put to the test many times in the future but what they need is the support of every club man or woman in the North West and beyond. It has only been going for less than two months but for most people cricket in this region has leapt forward many times that. Some things have worked better than others but the people charged with monitoring things have done exactly that and subsequently another busy winter looks assured for those involved. And two other men not directly involved in the aforementioned committees also deserve immense credit for what they have added to cricket coverage in these parts.
David Doey and Trevor Harper have done a magnificent job in tandem with John Boomer and the CricketEurope team in producing that superb Statszone. In time every player in every league will have their own page, photo and all, as coverage moves to yet another level. It may take a few seasons to get it right and new problems will no doubt manifest themselves as that happens but for now it has all been about the positives. We're likely to see some really tense finishes between here and the 8-team league cut-off point in September but there is already evidence aplenty that the work in progress is heading in the right direction.