Eastbourne Cricket Club chairman Ian Fletcher-Price said rival clubs are openly breaking Sussex League rules by offering money to poach talented players.
Fletcher-Price admits there has been moments of frustration during the close season as the club try to piece together a first XI that can gain them promotion back into the Sussex Premier at the first attempt.
The chairman said, “We have a tremendous youth section at the club and hats off to everyone for that but when a player breaks through and shows promise, they are offered money by other chairmen.
“It is a clear breach of league rules but it happens all the time. I don’t agree with paying players to play for our club.
“As such, I don’t understand why other chairmen pay and indeed entice opponents with various inducements to compete in the Premier league that affords no prize money.
“To my mind this is madness and with a constitution that prohibits paying players to play, it should be enforced by the league to ensure a level playing field.
“The landscape of club cricket is changing. I believe the lifestyle of players has certainly changed and trying to get a player to commit to a whole season of cricket is not quite as easy as it once was. Also, the appetite of private schools has increased and the number of bursaries and scholarships on offer has increased. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing on the whole but their commitment to school cricket makes it difficult to pick a player to represent Eastbourne in the Sussex leagues.
“We have a proud history at the club and none more so than the team of 1997 that won the National Cup at Lord’s. But dare I say, I don’t think that would have happened in today’s climate.
“That team would have been picked apart because of county and school commitments and other teams poaching the players.”
Despite the challenges, Fletcher-Price remains optimistic of a good season and aims to bounce back into the top-flight of Sussex cricket at the first attempt. “We have every chance,” Fletch added.
“We have a captain in Luke Tomsett who will do his very best for the club and once again our groundsman Jamie Rumsden has prepared a superb playing surface.
“We have our challenges, as all clubs do, but we are also very excited about the season ahead.”