GREAT & Little Tew have dramatically quit the Home Counties Premier League (HCPL) – potentially throwing the rest of the local cricket scene into disarray.

The west Oxfordshire club say they were forced to make the decision after losing more than ten first team players.

But their withdrawal leaves only nine sides in Division 2 of the HCPL for the upcoming season, with a big decision now to be made on whether – and how – they fill the vacancy.

The option that causes the least disruption would be to go ahead with a reduced number of teams.

But as the ‘elite’ league for Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, they are likely to do what they can to ensure a full compliment.

That is likely to mean a side being promoted from the Cherwell League where Dinton and Shipton-under-Wychwood, both relegated from the HCPL last season, will play.

That, however, would have a huge knock-on effect, with other divisions having to be restructured to accommodate the change.

And with the 2019 fixture list having already been issued, the league would need to start from scratch.

HCPL secretary Michael Roberts confirmed Tew's withdrawal and said options were being looked into with regards to the situation.

He added: "They advised us they would have difficulty this summer raising a team for various reasons and they did not feel they would fulfil their fixtures which is very unfortunate."

This season’s fixtures had been published on the HCPL website, but have now been removed.

Tew, who finished fifth in 2018, run their 2nd and 3rd XI’s in Divisions 4 and 10 respectively of the Cherwell League.

Club chairman Dave Freeman confirmed the west Oxfordshire club want their other sides to continue at their current level.

He said in a statement: "Unfortunately, due to over ten of our first team squad either moving away, being contracted to Gloucestershire and being required to play in that area, or accepting offers from other clubs, we have had to make the decision that we cannot compete in the HCPL in the 2019 season.

"We have asked that we be allowed to still fulfil our Cherwell League fixtures and await a decision.

"We appreciate that this causes disruption to a lot of clubs, but in order for our club to survive it was an unavoidable decision that we made as soon as these availability issues became a reality."

The Oxford Mail understands the Cherwell League are due to meet later this month.

Chairman Brian Standish said: "It's the intention of Great & Little Tew to play teams in those divisions and the Cherwell League wishes to do all it can to support the club in their time of difficulty."

Dinton, the highest-placed team relegated from the HCPL last season, said they have not yet been approached by either league as to where they might play.

“It’s an entirely hypothetical situation at the moment,” said chairman Eliot Lloyd.

“The leagues would have to decide whether indeed it would be possible to restructure at this late stage.

“We would certainly discuss it if required and at this stage would not rule anything in or out.”

There are other factors for the Cherwell League to also consider.

One is that following the release of the fixtures, the Oxford Mail is aware of clubs who have already booked home grounds in preparation for the season.

If the league is restructured, they may now be handed away fixtures on dates previously earmarked for home games.