The North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League has been awarded ECB Premier League status for the 2012 season. It has become the 26th club cricket league to have achieved the minimum criteria needed to receive ECB accreditation.
The concept of ECB Premier Leagues was introduced in 1997 with the principal aim of reducing the gulf in playing standards between top-level club cricket and first-class cricket. Since the Birmingham and District League became the first to meet the minimum assessment criteria – such as all club’s achieving Clubmark status – in 1998, many others have been admitted to create a network of Premier Leagues across England and Wales.
Most clubs in the various Premier Leagues employ either county or overseas professionals alongside their existing players to help raise the standard, with names such as former Pakistani Test player Saqlain Mushtaq, former England batsman Usman Afzaal and current England Lions player Joe Root all turning out for sides on a regular basis during 2011.
The North Yorkshire and South Durham Premier League is no different in that respect and saw England super-sub Gary Pratt and Yorkshire wicket-keeper Simon Guy turn out for Barnard Castle and Marske respectively last season.
The ECB Head of Non-First-Class Cricket Paul Bedford said of the latest addition to the ECB Premier League portfolio, “I’m delighted the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League have gained ECB Premier League status. I would like to commend the league and clubs for their hard work and commitment to achieving and in many cases exceeding the criteria for Premier League status. The addition of the league to the ECB Premier League portfolio is a great boost for cricket in the North East of England and further extends the access to top-tier club cricket across England and Wales.”
© Cricket World 2012