AFTER losing four top-flight teams in three seasons, some on social media are ready to write obituaries for the Mewies Solicitors Craven League.

Crossflatts left for the Bradford Premier League after the 2020 season, Embsay went to the Nidderdale League in the season just finished, and Bingley Congs and, it is a sure-fire bet, Oakworth will be leaving for the Aire-Wharfe League and the Halifax League respectively this winter.

And these are no ordinary teams either.

Crossflatts and Bingley Congs signed off by winning the Division One title, with Flatts adding the 2019 Wynn Cup, while Oakworth won the 2022 Wynn Cup and were runners-up in the league behind Congs.

Embsay were third in 2015 and 2016 and won the Wynn Cup in 2018.

But former Craven League secretary Peter Foster, although admitting that they were at a tipping point, was quick to point out at the league’s annual dinner and prize presentation at Bradford & Bingley Sports Club that not everything is doom and gloom.

He said: “We find ourselves at a crossroads.

“We are probably losing two of our star-studded teams (Halifax League clubs are expected to vote Oakworth in electronically by October 31), but we are gaining two more clubs (Bowling Baptists and Menston Crompark), one of whom has a playing membership of more than 100.”

It is also hoped that Silsden will be reforming their second team, giving the league five teams to replace the five that are leaving

Foster added: “We are not blind to what people are saying on Facebook - that the Craven League is in dire straits. Some of the comments have been reasonable and some of them laughable but we will be fine.

“Grass-roots cricket produces characters and you don’t get them in higher leagues. The Craven League and Ribblesdale League breed characters.”

He continued: “We know that a lot of fixtures have been conceded, and some of them have been Sunday fixtures, including cup matches (four of the six scheduled first-round Wynn Cup ties were conceded) but we are looking at a restructure of the league by lessening the number of teams in a division which would free up two Saturdays, and those two Saturdays will be utilised for playing the first two rounds of the cups and possibly introducing a Plate competition.

“Grass-roots cricket is changing, and it is not just in the Craven League.”

Foster added: “The new points system (batting and bowling bonus points) has worked well, and I have heard players say when I have been umpiring at square leg ‘Another wicket and we will get a bonus point’ or batters saying ‘Another few runs and we will get a bonus point’.

“We welcome Bowling Baptists to the dinner, and myself and Geoff Fisher went over one evening to look at their facilities (at Manningham Mills) and you will be glad to go there and play cricket.”

A sum of around £268 was raised for the Manorlands Hospice by a raffle on the evening.