WE MAY live in a changing world but once thing that seems a constant in local league cricket is a shortage of umpires.

In his last address as Bradford Premier League chairman, David Young admitted at their annual meeting at Cleckheaton Sports Club that it is their biggest challenge.

Young, who is replacing Keith Moss as league president, said: “We cannot magic them out of thin air.

“The only place they can come from are the clubs. Please, please do what you can. Thanks to Neil (Johnson) and Nigel (Thornton) for their work in appointing as many umpires to as many games as possible.”

Johnson, in his role as joint appointments’ secretary of the Bradford Premier League Match Officials’ Association, said: “Hopefully for the first two months of the season all first-team games will have two umpires, but we need the assistance of clubs to get more.”

The other main disappointing aspect is discipline.

Young confessed: “Discipline is still an issue. Mark Heald (incoming league chairman) has had a lot to deal with and it really should be the clubs that put a stop to bad behaviour.

“I thank Mark for all his work but ask clubs to take responsibility and stamp out bad behaviour.”

On a more positive note, Young showed his gratitude both to league sponsors Gordon Rigg and the work of the league’s management board.

He said: “We are lucky to have such generous and supportive sponsors in Gordon Rigg.

“We are grateful for their continued support of the league. Please do your bit and support them where you can. I’d like to thank Bill Holmes for all his hard work in getting Gordon Rigg to renew.

“Having such generous sponsors means we can help clubs. This year we are giving you all a printer for DLS (Duckworth, Lewis, Stern), we have removed the requirements to purchase handbooks and have kept the subs at £50. That must be the lowest subscription of any league anywhere.”

In addition to a printer, handbooks, match cards and sponsorship banners, clubs also received mugs – so much stuff in fact that it was difficult to transport everything back to their respective clubs.

As for the board, Young said: “They have all worked tirelessly to get the league and clubs through this tough time.”

Young did not forget the members either, saying: “I’d like to thank all the clubs for their help, understanding and sheer hard work over these last two years.

“I believe it is testament to you as club officials and the decisions made by the board that we still have 48 clubs going strong.”

He added: “We have introduced our raising standards programme that is delivering results.

“It’s great to see some of the fantastic improvements to facilities at so many grounds. I pay tribute to Bill Holmes and Chris Leathley (league secretary) for all their work. Don’t forget we have a fund there for interest-free loans to help in this area.”