When it came to the crunch, the vote was conclusive.

The concept of win/lose cricket in Pembrokeshire, seemingly craved by so many for considerable time, has now become reality following the Pembroke County Cricket AGM in Haverfordwest last night.

That’s right, an outcome whereby a team batting first racks up 200 before restricting the opposition to 151-9 will no longer be referred to as a ‘draw’.

Teams will receive 10 points for a win, five if there is a tie, while the bonus point system will continue as normal. A side batting second will still be able to make up points if they pass a low total with wickets in hand, but now only if they lose the toss and are asked to field first.

Other significant changes have come in too. In league matches, the maximum number of overs for a bowler will be nine in Divisions One and Two, eight in Three and Four, and seven in Five.

No player who has played eight or more matches for a higher club during the season can then play for a lower side (IE 2nds or 3rds) during August, and once an individual takes part in seven first team games they are no longer eligible for the Alec Colley.

Both rules are designed to prevent teams strengthening their lower sides unfairly.

Also at the meeting, fines were put in place for teams who don’t fulfil Harrison-Allen Bowl fixtures, as opposed to expulsion the following year.

Other significant matters saw Richard Merriman officially take over from Paul Webb as County Chairman, while John Harries was made a life member for his dedication to churning out the results and tables every single weekend.

But undoubtedly, it was the introduction of win/lose cricket that prompted by far the biggest reaction.

The time was now:

It’s been no secret that playing numbers have dropped in Pembrokeshire this past decade. Enthusiasm amongst youngsters has dwindled, club sides have folded, and more and more of our best talent has slipped away into the South Wales set up.

This change won’t solve everything, but it’s a move that needed to be taken.

So many have championed changing the format from afar and yet when push came to shove, very few were prepared to bring it to the table. The all too easy excuse often being ‘the members will just block it at the AGM’.

The major difference this year is the drive behind it had come from the PCCC. At the end of season meeting for clubs last September, Paul Webb indicated the Executive themselves would be prepared to make the proposal. Sure enough, they did so and last night Webb urged clubs to go in that direction.

So often the Executive are fired at for being out of touch and resisting change. On this occasion, they’ve listened to the masses and taken a bold step, and credit where credit’s due.

Drawing conclusions:

In reality, this is a move that makes sense on many levels.

Globally, cricket has made big strides towards becoming a more exciting and attractive product and Pembrokeshire hasn’t been in sync with that. The new format should at least encourage a more positive brand - and remove the notion of teams dropping anchor from ball one and hoping to creep within 50 runs for some draw points.

Tactically, this means clarity too. Many will be familiar with the scenario of needing 20 runs to win, only one wicket in hand, and a couple of overs remaining. It’s no longer a question of stick or twist.

When our county side plays, or our teams compete in the Welsh or Village Cup, all involved will now be in line with the mentality needed to win 40, 45, or 50 over games. Those who have always argued the draw in limited over cricket was a unique concept were correct, but it’s not a model that has helped sides or individuals prepare for performing on a higher stage.

And of course, we no longer have to explain to a confused outsider how a team managed to draw despite getting much less runs than the opposition either. 

Put up or shut up:

It is worth noting that there were plenty of well informed local cricket figures in favour of keeping the draw. Trefor Evans spoke against the alteration at the AGM and presented a valid argument. Already, some have voiced fears that teams chasing big totals when batting second will now be disheartened before even starting their reply.

And let’s not be naive. This is a significant change but it doesn’t mean that all problems with participation and standards will suddenly disappear.

However, many have stayed on the perimeter of Pembrokeshire cricket in recent times blaming the losing draw rule for a lack of interest. That excuse is now gone and the ball is in the court of the clubs and players.

This is a change that the vast majority have called for and the PCCC have now listened. So for that vast majority, it’s time to put up or shut up.

An interesting summer lies ahead.