RICHARD Body spoke of his pain after Blewbury & Wallingford pulled their teams out of this season’s Cherwell League – and he predicted the same could happen to other small clubs.

“It was a painful decision to make, but we really had no option after having insufficient players to run even one team,” said Body, their secretary.

The club, based at Bohams Road, Blewbury and formed by an amalgamation with homeless Wallingford CC club in 2012, were first aware of their shortfall towards the end of last year.

“We were losing a lot of senior players to ‘life’ really,” explained Body.

“A lot of them with young families just could not afford the time to spend Saturday afternoons playing cricket.”

During the close season, Blewbury & Wallingford approached the Cherwell League asking whether they could field just one team for the 2017 campaign.

“We were very grateful when the league eventually allowed us to play one team in Division 3 for this season, and thought that was the solution,” said Body.

But the player crisis deteriorated.

With news they were struggling, some of their remaining players were approached to join other neighbouring clubs.

One of their star players last season was seamer Scott Harris, who was Cherwell’s leading first XI wicket-taker in 2016.

“With less then a handful of players willing to commit to more than five games, we took the decision to pull out a few weeks before the start of the new campaign,” explained Body.

“Although it was a painful decision to take and desperately sad for our president Alan Brannan, it was a relief for me that we wouldn’t have to spend hours getting together sides that wouldn’t be able to compete in the


But Body feels they could become the first of many.

“It’s going to become a survival of the fittest for some of the smaller clubs,” he predicted.

“Fewer and fewer youngsters are taking up the game – the lack of cricket on terrestrial TV doesn’t help – and the pressures on young families will only increase.”

In the meantime, cricket is not completely dying at Blewbury.

There is still a junior section with some promising players, while the club will continue to play T20 matches in midweek.

Body said: “There is a hope that the club could return to league cricket in the future, but I can’t see that happening. I hope I’m wrong.”

SHRIVENHAM will field just one team in the OCA League next season after losing a number of members, including eight from their first XI.

They have been granted permission to drop a side and have been placed in Division 6 for the upcoming season, which gets under way on Saturday.

Despite having established themselves as a Division 1 side in recent years, secretary Harry Timms said the club had no option other than to ply their trade much lower down.

“We have lost numerous players, especially a lot of the better ones,” he said.

“People move on, try to better themselves and many others have moved away.”

He added: “We have been totally honest with everyone and are trying to ensure our club and its players are competing at the right level to be fair to them and our opponents.

“The league have said they will be keeping an eye on us and have put a caveat on what players we can use.

“That’s fine with us. Those who have gone we will not be re-signing. We just want to provide cricket and it makes sense to do that at the right level.”

League secretary Colin Olliffe added: “We do not envisage any problems at all.

“But our registration secretary will be keeping an eye on the players they sign on, just to be fair to everyone.”