BRADFORD Premier League chairman Billy Holmes has admitted that they cannot stand still if they want to maintain their reputation as one of the best cricketing organisations in the nation.

Speaking at the league’s annual meeting at Cleckheaton Sports Club, he said: “We are recognised as one of the strongest and most competitive leagues in the country, but time moves on and we cannot rest on our laurels.

“I believe that we start from a very strong base, having been around the clubs, and we will continue to do everything that is practically possible to support you.”

Describing his initial year as chairman as “a very interesting start”, Holmes admitted: “I now have a better idea of the work and efforts of the management board, and they do come in for criticism.

“But as chief executive officer, Alan Birkinshaw has knowledge and insight, and his work ethic for the Bradford League is a priceless asset.

“Philip Radcliffe (chief operations officer) and Chris Leathley (secretary) undertake their work in a timely fashion, and we have listened to clubs about the T20 competition, moving it to Sundays and having double-header match days.

“Chris ensures that clubs have current third-party liability insurance in place before the start of the season, organises all the cup finals and the annual dinner and helps clubs to achieve Clubmark status.

“Mick Varley (treasurer) is also involved in our Raising Standards project, which helped Liversedge with a new scorebox. Meanwhile, Michael Rhodes has stepped down as league records officer and Neil Johnson as the Match Officials’ Association chairman and joint appointments secretary.”

Holmes added: “Our recent annual dinner was one of the best that we have ever had and we need to use that as a template for our overall improvement.

“The independent report into equity in cricket was damning, but we have been recognised at the highest level of the game (for our governance in this sphere), and in EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) officer Nasa Hussain we have a man with an uncanny knack for finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

“Our umpires (BPL Match Officials’ Association) have passed a Memorandum of Association to establish a protocol, and the Board and the MOA have ratified a revised Memorandum of Understanding as a basis going forward.”

Holmes added: “Discipline is a thorny issue and some of our umpires have had to put up with dissent from players and, sadly, some club officials.

“However, disciplinary cases are down by 25 per cent from the 2022 season, and clubs and players are increasingly aware of our Club Misconduct Code (a second layer of disciplinary measures).

“Six clubs are one Level Two offence away from suffering a 20-point deduction. However, 28 clubs went through last season without any disciplinary issues.

“Sponsorship from Gordon Rigg (£11,000) and ECB funding of £13,000 represents 90 per cent of our total income, while our 13 trophies were won by 13 different clubs.

“We are in a good place, but we hope to be in a slightly better place (in a year’s time). We do listen.”