Riversiders keen to play at highest standard possible

Garstang's Riverside Cricket Ground could host Lancashire League cricket in 2017
Garstang's Riverside Cricket Ground could host Lancashire League cricket in 2017
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Officials at Garstang Cricket Club are braced for the biggest decision in their 66-year history.

The club is in the dark as to which league they will be playing in from the 2017 season onwards.

Ten clubs from the Northern League, seven from the Ribblesdale League and Garstang, who are the lone applicants from the Palace Shield, have applied to join the Lancashire League.

The Lancashire League is introducing promotion and relegation from 2017 onwards to ensure its premier status.

The Northern League currently boasts such status but that is at risk if a system for teams going up and down is not implemented.

Officials from the Lancashire League are currently in the process of inspecting the applicants’ grounds.

Garstang were inspected last Wednesday. Indications are that a final decision could be made on the make-up of the new league by the end of next month.

Several concerns have been expressed by applicants that they do not wish to play predominantly on Sunday, which the Lancashire League currently do.

“We are yet to make a full decision as a club and both options are viable to us,” chairman Andy Walling said.

“The officials seemed impressed with our facilities and we feel we probably have some of the best in the Palace Shield. We’ve no qualms with the standard, format or running of the Palace Shield but we want to progress the club and play at the best standard possible.”

Bobby Denning, managing director of the Lancashire Cricket Board, added: “Our aim has always been to sustain viable league cricket in Lancashire. It is certainly not the intention of the Lancashire League wipe out the Northern League.

“League cricket in Lancashire may look different in the future, but all the leagues will remain intact.

“The LCB are very close to this and we are in the process of getting all the four leagues involved together.

“No one knows at this stage how the leagues will look or how they will be affected because we don’t know how many clubs will meet the Lancashire League criteria.”