As the year draws to a close, our weekly Senior Section previews and reports correspondent, Sam Chadwick, pens his thoughts on our first year and on our future. 
The Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League’s first season of existence couldn’t have come at a more uncertain time for us all, but ultimately proved to be a great success. Despite various potential issues with Covid and indifferent weather, the 2021 season provided the kind of competition everyone involved with the reshuffle would have been hoping for. 
The attitude of clubs who have come into the new league has been praised, with Appleby Frodingham’s treble in the Premier Division encapsulating the enthusiasm shown by all. 
Terry Bentham, former Chairman of the South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League and League Ambassador for YCSPL, praised teams who found themselves in lower divisions due to the reshuffle, saying ‘they embraced relegation and they gave it a 100%’; whilst calling teams like Appleby Frodingham, Cleethorpes and Doncaster Town, who have bounced back from relegation, ‘a credit to the old Yorkshire League’. 
It’s an attitude that League Chairman David Ward wants to continue as clubs who perhaps didn’t have the threat of relegation or hope of promotion in their old leagues get used to the higher stakes. The growth and popularity of the new league structure will see a new Division 9 next season, a decision which saw a thrilling finish to the season last year, with large relegation zones introduced to accommodate the changes. 
In the League’s report written to the Yorkshire Cricket Board, the success of last season in the face of adversity is plain to see. Only 44 games out of a potential 1,299 were cancelled due to Covid across all ten divisions, a true reflection of the responsibility and professionalism shown by clubs across the YCSPL. 
The League Executive Board are under no illusions about the fact that the league is a new project, and there will be teething problems. But as said in the report they believe they ‘have made a strong start’ and ‘have a strong foundation to build on in the future’. 
Ward stressed the importance for junior set-ups, saying it is ‘the key thing for clubs to survive’ as they continue to bring through young talent into senior cricket. The same can be said for women’s cricket as the YCSPL continue to push for better inclusion in the sport going forward. 
Participation is the key word looking forward for the league: as well as the obvious focus on improvements to youth and women’s cricket, the importance of bringing through new umpires is also near the top of the list. 
Officials are crucial to the game, and whilst the YCSPL is in a better position than most leagues in the UK, the need to recruit more umpires remains a high priority. The quality and depth of the umpires panel has again been demonstrated by the promotion of Premier League umpire Adam Seymour to the national panel, an excellent achievement in a season when the panel is actually being reduced in size. Adam joins fellow league officials Duncan Jones, Nick Oddy, Jason Pitcher and Simon Widdup. 
An initiative this season that has put the League ahead of most others, is the introduction of an Equity & Diversity Group, that advise the Executive Board on equality issues. The group have developed an Equity & Diversity policy and are currently analysing results of their first player survey. 
The 2021 season overall showed encouraging signs at a point in time where, perhaps, the popularity of cricket countrywide has been questioned. It is a testament to the attitudes of clubs and others involved with the YCSPL to see the success it has had in its first incarnation, with room for growth as it matures. 
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