The Southern Premier Cricket League is anticipating a return to normal service in 2022, writes Mike Vimpany.

The ECB Premier Division is back to its familiar split format of all-day 'time' and 50-over 'white ball' matches and traditional red ball cricket being in Divisions 1, 2 and 3.

It means all-day cricket lunches and teas for Hook & Newnham Basics and many others being back on the meal tables when play begins on Saturday, May 7. The final 18th round of SPL fixtures is on September 3.

Time pennant matches in the Premier Division, which will occupy the normal nine-week slab of fixtures in mid-summer, will begin on June 4, with umpires calling 'play' at 11.30am.

All 50-over matches across the four divisions will begin at 12.30pm.

SPL chairman Steve Vear MBE said: "The Management Committee has decided to reset all of the SPL playing conditions to what they were in the 2019 season, save applying Duckworth Lewis to rain affected matches across the board.

"We know there has been much debate in the past 18 months about whether teas should return. We also know that it is simply not possible to keep everyone happy, so for the time being, the status quo shall return.

"In terms of the future of our playing format, we are committed to conducting a formal and focussed playing survey at the end of the 2022 season."

The Southern Premier League’s second tier clubs will continue to play exclusively ‘red ball’ cricket in 2022 after a proposal by Alton to introduce a half-season ‘white ball’ element into matches was defeated by one vote at the league annual meeting.

Relegated Alton wanted Division 1 clubs to play identical 50-over cricket to that in the ECB Premier Division, with nine games at the start and end of the 18-match season played with a white ball and using coloured clothing and black sightscreens.

The traditional red ball would be used in the middle part of the summer.

Six clubs backed Alton’s proposal, but with Calmore Sports, Sarisbury Athletic, Sparsholt and Ventnor voting against, the Brewers’ plans just failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority.

Things could change in 2023 though as a change of rule approved last night means that a 51 per cent majority will be sufficient to carry proposals through in future.

The Hampshire League programme also begins on May 7 and concludes on August 27, one week earlier than the Premier League.