Friday, January 28, 2011

Alan Bundy and the Evolution of a League

As the cricket grounds around Hampshire start to the thaw out, it’s nice to take the opportunity to look past the grounds, and discuss the game from the seated position of those that have influenced and seen it grow over the years.

Alan Bundy is one of these fine people that have given not just their ideas, but time to see the Southern Electric Premier Cricket League prosper into what we all enjoy today. A former goalkeeper who played County Football locally and semi-professionally in Canada during the 60’s. Alan is now a retired structural engineer, whose ability to organise has had him at the helm of the SEPCL during its inception in the ECB structure. He continues to be involved in its ongoing development.

After a life as a footballer in Canada during the early stages of its professional leagues, Alan Bundy the goal keeper became Alan Bundy the gloveman at 32 for the Merlin CC evening side and later part time keeper with the Deanery CC. He talks of his passion over ability that kept him in the team, and his ability to be a good organiser of men that made him one of the early team managers in the league.

From behind the stumps to sorting out the team sheets, this led Alan to standing in the middle for his club. In 1988 John Wolfe, incoming chairman at the time of the Southern League looked to Alan and others to help form a team of independent umpires. This was the inception of the South Coast Panel of umpires. From 1989 Alan was involved in umpiring County Second XI & Minor Counties for 9 years, having the opportunity of standing with the likes of Dickie Bird and John Holder. Alan talks fondly of meeting Paul Collingwood in a match against Berkshire, when probed on what he first noticed of the recently retired England test player he said “he was a nice guy”.

In 1999 the ECB began to transform the county leagues into “Premier” competitions after the Lord MacLaurin “Raising the Standards” report. During this time when Mark Readman was Chairman and Alan was League Secretary, Alan played a key role in the shaping of the league we see today. Having been part of the Management team for some years he became chairman in 2000, while continuing to umpire until 2005.

ECB Premier League Accreditation wanted all ‘Time Cricket’, something the Management Committee would find hard to sell to Clubs used to result cricket. The final decision of the League was a split format, nine ‘Limited Overs Games’ plus nine ‘Time Games’. With this presentation the Southern League obtained partial ECB accreditation. As time has passed the ECB fully accepted the split format and gave SEPCL full ECB Premier accreditation

A believer that all forms cricket have their merit. Alan has passion for the contest that is timed cricket, and hopes that it is not pushed out of the league by those that are too result driven. He relishes the quest of a batsman hanging on late in the summer evening as his side is slowly sinking, or the attacking nature of the opening spells of a team fielding first. With this in mind Alan passionately believes the SEPCL keep timed cricket as part of it’s schedule.

His most satisfying achievement in the Chair of the League was in 2003 helping to have the Hampshire Academy accepted into the league. This meant dual registrations for promising young players taken from member clubs to play for the Academy, something he felt may be hard to sell to the member clubs. However accepted it was. Alan talks of a discussion many years ago with Maurice Tremlett, father of Tim, when Maurice said there is no point in playing my young son in the first team just to field, he needs to bowl and bat if he is to progress. This chat often comes to mind when he sees the success and development of young academy players under the stewardship of Tony Middleton, opening the bowling and batting against the best in the SEPCL. Alan is still a strong supporter of the development program and its progression.

* To read the orginal article from the Hampshire Cricket Board click here.

**This article is part of an ongoing series for the Hampshire Cricket Board on people involved in grassroots cricket. If you know of any extraordinary people involved in the Hampshire Leagues, please get in contact with the Cricket Observer. All past and present articles can be found in the HCB Archive.

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