Saturday will be 'Judgement Day' for cricket teams in Pembrokeshire

Division One 2019 Champions Neyland with umpires

Will clubs in danger of second team relegation field players from their first team? Of course they will!

At last! Cricket's 'Judgement Day' in Pembrokeshire is here, with league matches across the board in all the divisions before next Saturday sees the county’s ‘Blue Riband' event taking place at Cresselly, where Haverfordwest meet Lawrenny in the Harrison-Allen Bowl Final.

But before that much interest will be centred upon the league games, where divisions one and two play 45 overs per side and the teams in the lower echelons share 80 overs - and although most of the issues are decided at the top there is a great deal of cricket to be played lower down before all the promotion and relegation contenders know their fates.

As we do every season we hope clubs won’t strengthen from their first teams but we are not naive enough to think it won't go on. Indeed, there were a few first team players dropping down a couple of weeks ago and last Saturday even more so but we believe it serves little purpose because it is better to go down a section, regroup and be stronger for it a year later!

Division One done and dusted – at both ends!

Firstly we must congratulate Neyland as runaway winners of the championship, with Sean Hannon's team assured of the silverware with two weeks to go - and receiving the silverware from County Club chairman Paul Webb after comfortably accounting for Haverfordwest last week.

Runners-up Lawrenny were also assured of their place and there is no doubt that their position in the league shows what an improvement they have made with Joe Kidney at the helm - and they have rightly earned recognition as a very good team, with no real weaknesses as they also reached the final of the DR Morris Cup as well as turning out against The Town next Saturday.

At the other end of the table both Burton and Llangwm drop down after disappointing seasons and when they play at Pill Parks on Saturday it will just be for fun - and perhaps that is why they haven't done better this campaign because there is a number of talented players in both camps, like Morgan Scale and the Hayman brothers at Oatfield Park and Joe Kiff, Ollie Davies and Andrew Brock with Llangwm.

Llechryd or Narberth? Take your pick!

It is a similar story in the second division as Llechryd and Narberth are already assured of promotion and the only issue now is who goes up as section champions as they meet this Saturday at Llechryd with the home club 17 points to the good after Narberth unluckily had a match called off recently, which caused them problems.

It should be a cracking contest and both teams have match winners who could swing it on the day. My gut feeling? Narberth by a whisker if they can remove John Curran early!

Johnston and Cresselly Seconds do battle at Glebelands in a similar vein because both will be playing in division three next season and aiming to bounce back. Johnston have suffered without a second string but with stalwarts like Steve James and John Summons alongside Josh Hicks and Gino Cleal still involved they will battle on.

It is a similar story in a different way with Cresselly because skipper Matthew Lewis has fielded experienced players of the calibre of Richard Harris, Neal Williams, Lyn Richards and Scott Arthur alongside talented, but very young players like Charlie Arthur, Morgan, Josh and Corey Lewis as real investments for the future!

The real action starts here!

Now we come to the real action as we move on to division three where there are still three teams in contention to gain promotion in Herbrandston (402 points), Lamphey (383) and Llanrhian (380). Spare a thought for Llanrhian firsts because they were atop the table last Saturday morning but failed to gather a single point as their match at Llangwm was called off.

In the meanwhile, Herbie beat Lamphey by one wicket in an epic confrontation but the latter had the consolation of knowing they had collected enough points to move into second. This week sees all three with tough tussles as they take on the teams in fourth, fifth and sixth positions, with Herbie away to sixth-placed Narberth 2nds, Lamphey at home to Laugharne 1sts (currently 4th) and Llanrhian entertaining Stackpole 1sts (5th).

At the other end of the table we see Lawrenny 2nds down and out but they will be joined by either Whitland 2nds (188), Llangwm 2nds (196) or Haverfordwest 3rds (209), with all three likely to draw players in from their senior sides to try and retain section status.

Division four is a hot bed – especially at the foot of the table

St Ishmaels 2nds are still not statistically assured of being division four champs but they are 22 points ahead of Neyland 2nds, with the situation unlikely to change since Tish are at home to Burton 2nds and Neyland entertaining third-placed Llanrhian 2nds.

At the foot of the table Haverfordwest Thirds are 160+ points behind Carew 3rds (251), Saundersfoot 2nds (253), Hook 2nds (258) and Burton 3rds (262), with Crymych 2nds (267) and Llechryd 2nds (271) still statistically unsafe, despite being fourth and fifth in the table. Do you want to bet me that there won’t be some strengthening going on there!

A few permutations in division five

In the fifth division we have Hundleton (238) and Whitland 3rds (233) in front of Kilgetty 2nds (225) and Neyland 3rds (215) below them so there are a few permutations there are too. At the foot of the table we have Stackpole 2nds bottom and with Herbrandston 2nds above them but both deserve terrific credit for managing to stay afloat to fight again next season - and we with them every success!

Division One 2019 runners up Lawrenny