A TRIO of new teams are joining the Westmorland Cricket League (WCL) for the 2020 season.

The news has been welcomed by followers of the sport in the area and represents a major fillip for the competition at a time when league cricket has faced worrying national trends of falling participation.

And with Lancashire County Cricket Club having recently announced their return to the region with a further first team fixture scheduled for Sedbergh School in 2020 to follow last year's hugely successful hosting of the County Championship game against Durham this summer, a new spirit of optimism is pervading the sport locally despite the fact that the new season is still four months away.

The most significant move will see Cumbria League mainstays Vickerstown join the WCL, with Furness based outfit competing in Division Two in the 2020 season.

In addition, Sedbergh School's second XI will also join Division Two, a move which will allow WCL teams the chance to play on the same pristine ground where Lancashire's international stars will be displaying their skills.

The final new addition will see the thriving Westgate club enter a new third XI as a way of creating a pathway for their talented young players from junior to senior cricket.

Arnside have also provided a further boost by confirming they are staying loyal to the WCL and have not taken up the opportunity to join the Cumbria League.

In a further significant move, the four highest placed Lancashire clubs in the WCL, Carnforth, Westgate, Shireshead and Heysham, have been given the opportunity to enter the Palace Shield’s prestigious Meyler Cup next season.

The news was announced at the WCL annual general meeting this week, when one departure was also announced with Penrith 2nds leaving to play in the Eden Valley League.

The WCL have also announced that 19 people have completed Level 1 coaching courses, greatly strengthening the coaching set ups at member clubs, and the WCL have also teamed up with the Lancashire Association of Cricket Officials to organise training for people who are interested in becoming umpires.

Stage 1 and 2 courses are being run at Carnforth CC on January 12 and 19 and you can book via https://www.ecb.co.uk/be-involved/officials/find-a-course/Umpiring-courses

The Northern Cricket League have also been active this week after announcing that they have revamped their two 'domestic' competitions for the 2020 season.

The 40 Over Cup will now take place in early season, with the first round on Sunday, May 10 and the final scheduled for Sunday, June 28.

The league said this decision has been taken as the competition had now been restricted to four entrants in the National and Lancs KO Cups.

Kendal have been drawn at home to Chorley in the first round with Netherfield travelling to newly promoted Morecambe.

The T20 Cup will be played as a late season competition starting on Sunday, July 19, and will now take the form of two groups of six clubs.

Each club will, as per the previous format, host one 'double header' match day.

Unfortunately there will be no town derby as the two local sides have been drawn in separate groups.

Netherfield have a fair amount of travelling to do as they have been drawn in Group 1 with St Annes, Lancaster, Garstang, Chorley and Leyland, while Kendal are in Group 2 with Morecambe, Blackpool, Longridge, Fleetwood and Fulwood & Broughton.

The league season itself begins on Saturday, April 18 with full fixtures to be released shortly.