The Foot and Mouth epidemic is a threat to the Saracens Herts Cricket League schedule for the new campaign.

With the start only a month away, clubs have already been faced with the difficulty of trying to dry out saturated grounds after months of rain, and now there is the worry of severe disruption through the disease.

At their meeting on Thursday, league officers were told that several clubs are currently prevented from gaining full access to their grounds. They can carry out limited preparatory work on the pitches, but full access is denied, and cricket would be unlikely under current restrictions.

As yet, no cases of the disease have been reported in the county.

The League committee is now trying to ascertain how many of its 103 clubs are affected, so that plans can be made in the event of a shortened league season.

One of the options is for the the division tables to be decided on a points average system.

However, such a plan could be threatened if some teams have their season severely curtailed due to local restrictions.

Clubs are being asked to contact league secretary Richard Bayliss (tel: 07970 682818 or e-mail: richard bayliss@connectfree. to advise their current position or provide details of other local clubs that are affected.

Clubs known to be facing restrictions include: Ampthill, Bushey, Chipperfield, Chorleywood, Harpenden, Hertingfordbury, Kings Langley, Old Centralians and Wheathampstead.

*The Saracens Herts Cricket League's premier division clubs face a meeting tonight (Thursday) to decide whether to overturn one of the decisions taken at the recent annual meeting.

The ten top clubs had decided they did not want to adopt one of cricket's new laws which allows umpires to impose five penalty runs for a variety of offences, including abuse of opposing players.

It has subsequently transpired that the status of the Home Counties Premier League has been at risk as it is required to adopt the current laws of cricket in order to maintain its premier status.

As a feeder division in the Home Counties League, the Saracens Herts premier division is also required to adopt all the laws.

Failure to do so would result in the HCPL losing accreditation, which would make it ineligible for funding from the England & Wales Cricket Board.

The Herts League executive committee has therefore received a joint request from the ECB and HCPL to call a special meeting at which the recent annual meeting decision can be reviwed.

If the decision is reversed, it will have to be ratified at a meeting of all Herts League clubs next month.

At this week's meeting of the senior clubs, they will also be asked to decide their future approach to the Home Counties Premier League.

They will need to choose between playing a full part in the new 'super league' arrangement, where the best clubs can test their skills on a higher stage, or confining their interests, indefinitley, to the popular local league in Hertfordshire.