So it’s the burning question… what is happening with league cricket this summer?
Well, the simple answer is (save for Scotland*), we are unsure. The respective governing bodies continue to drip-feed guidance but fail to provide clarity. Realistically, though, can they?
The ECB has come under scrutiny due to their perceived lack of contingency planning. However, with the health and wellbeing of cricketers the absolute priority, it seems an impossible task to determine a return date…. if at all, this summer!
* No league cricket in Scotland this year
On the 13th May, Cricket Scotland took a proactive, bull-by-the-horns, approach to cancel league cricket. For many, this was a premature decision. For others, it provided clarity.
Gus Mackay, the Cheif Exec of Cricket Scotland, said:
“We very much understand that those involved in the game will be disappointed that there will be no league cricket this year and the decision has been made with a heavy heart. However, in all the circumstances, we believe this decision brings the necessary clarity for the game in Scotland while seeking to provide, when we can, some form of cricket in 2020, working within the Scottish Government’s guidelines“.
What about club cricket in England, Wales, and Ireland?
The ECB, Cricket Wales, and Cricket Ireland are basing their guidance on Government advice, and quite rightly so. Both sporting bodies continue to update as information comes available.
The timeline of the ECB’s guidance is below (these currently apply to England only. Lockdown restrictions remain in place in Wales with a review due to take place on 28 May).
- Suspension of all recreational cricket on 18 March;
- The Government provided an update on 10 May and this suspension remains in place (save for nets – see below);
- The use of outdoor cricket facilities (nets and pitches) was released on 11 May. The detailed guidance document can be seen here;
- Supporting guidance (via the Government) regarding the phased return of sport and exercise then followed on 13 May;
- On 15 May, the ECB provided a FAQ in response to the many questions raised by the public over social media;
- The ECB continues to talk regularly to their CCB’s, leagues, and clubs across the country and will provide further updates as required.
What are English leagues proposing?
Various leagues have contingency plans in place with proposed start dates on or around the 11th July. Some leagues are proposing to extend their seasons deep into September with no promotion/relegation. Obviously, though, leagues are reliant on the Government and ECB guidance before the reinstatement of cricket this summer.
What the experts say….
In a recent Q&A with The Cricketer, Scientific Advice Group for Emergencies (SAGE) expert, Sir Jeremy Farrar, suggested both professional and recreational cricket could return this summer.
“Perhaps in August, I doubt if it will be possible in July, but you never know. I don’t think it’s impossible to put the logistics in place to allow you to do that“.
“Cricket lends itself to this better than many other sports,” he said. “If you take a cricket game and think sensibly, how can we still have a game which respects some of the physical distancing measures that make sense: hand-washing between overs, not spitting on the ball, using umpires from the teams to reduce the number of people, changing at home and going to the ground.
“You can think through a game from early in the morning to stumps and come up logically with a plan in the context of physical distancing which wouldn’t ruin the game.
“I think you could do that and have games potentially played in July and August.
“What can we do with our scientific knowledge to reduce risk and allow recreational cricket to go on, which is hugely important. People’s wellbeing has been so negatively impacted with this, we all know that, and getting people active again is hugely important.”
End of the innings…
This is all we have for you right now, but please follow our social media platforms (below) for regular updates, as and when they come in from the respective Governing bodies.
So you have all the latest information, we have provided all the relevant articles, below.
Cricket Committee recommends prohibition of saliva to shine the ball (18-May)
All cricket could return in August but crowds at sporting venues unlikely until 2021 – SAGE expert (18-May)
England & Wales Cricket Board
Cricket and COVID-19: your questions answered (15-May)
ECB guidelines for the use of outdoor cricket facilities in lockdown (15-May)
Return to activity in a cricket club setting (15-May)
ECB update on the recreational game: 12 May (12-May)
Emergency support programmes (1-May)
Cricket Scotland reiterates current guidance for Scottish cricket clubs (18-May)
COVID-19: Support and advice for Clubs and Wider Cricket Community (13-May)
Cricket Scotland provides an update on cricket activity in 2020 (13-May)
Ministers Ross and Griffin establish Return to Sport Expert Group (16-May)