WELL established though it may be, as the leading Asian competition in the north of England, Saltaire Cricket Club chairman Simon Hicks thinks the Quaid-e-Azam League might benefit by thinking outside the box.

Hicks was speaking at the league's annual prize presentation, which was attended by over 150 at the Aagrah Midpoint in Thornbury, perhaps buoyed by the national success of Carlton Bolling College's under-15 girls' team.

"Given that I have seen some really good young Asian girls playing cricket, would it not be a great time for the league to begin thinking about bringing under its banner a competition for under-11 or under-13 girls?" he said.

"Start small and do something simple but do it really well and you never know where it might lead."

Saltaire hosted not only the league's Chefgenie Shield and Yasmin & Shaid Solicitors Cup finals but also their eight-a-side final and Hicks is acutely aware of not only the general lack of umpires but also of groundsmen.

He said of the few men (or women) who tend the squares and the outfield: "Somehow this has to be addressed now. Leaving it another five years will only store up problems for the future.

"A possible solution would be to get away from the idea that only one person is responsible for the ground and to think in terms of a team of three, thereby sharing the duties.

"Of course, it still requires people to step forward and volunteer their time."

Hicks added: "It is pleasing to see more younger players in the league alongside some of the hardy perennials who have found various ways of defying the advancing years.

"Also the introduction of the Shield has been a real positive for the league, which is obviously in good health.

"There is also an opportunity for the best of the younger players to play in the inner-city under-20 competition, which should act as a platform to showcase the best and perhaps undiscovered talent to Yorkshire County Cricket Club."

Hicks added, tongue in cheek, that Saltaire groundsman Billy Ricketts has a couple of suggestions for the future of the league.

"Bearing in mind a lot of the lads see the 1.30pm start as a basis for negotiation, perhaps you could consider transforming the league into a day-night competition, given the success of the cup final, which finished at about 9pm," he said.

"He also reckons he might try drying the wicket next season by using a helicopter and pouring petrol on the wicket and setting fire to it."

Special guest at the dinner was Ahmed Amjad Ali, Bradford's consul general from the Consulate of Pakistan.

Former league chairman Basharat Hussain, the current league president, received a special award from the league's executive committee in light of his 26 years' service to the league.