Amidst the positive news of international cricket’s return, league cricketers up and down the country remain in limbo, waiting anxiously for the return of their beloved club cricket!
But, will club cricket ever return?
Yesterday, the ECB announced it’s “Roadmap to Recovery“. Whilst a set of guidelines were produced for nets, there was no indication on when club cricket will return – much to the frustration of thousands of club cricketers!
On Wednesday (3 June), the ECB discussed this during their fortnightly video-conference with Premier League chairmen. The key points from that meeting are below:
- The ECB continues to be optimistic about some recreational cricket to be played in 2020, but meaningful cricket (11-a-side) was unlikely for at least another month.
- The ECB planned to communicate their guidance around cricket being played in small groups in accordance with recent Government announcements. This followed 48 hours later.
- The ECB is working alongside the Government to produce an “Adapted Game Play” model which can be incorporated into match conditions.
Is the ECB doing enough?
Many believe the ECB is simply not doing enough for recreational cricket. Others claim their hands are tied and reliant on Government advice. But, could the ECB be more proactive?
In a recent article by William Buckingham for The Full Toss website, the aptly entitled article “Club cricket should come first” suggests the amateur game is being largely ignored and neglected.
“With lucrative broadcasting deals at risk, the ECB is looking at the current predicament from the opposite perspective – a ‘top down’ approach. While the authorities have outlined their concern for the amateur game, there has been little communication surrounding its prospects and potential contingency plans“.
“When speaking on The Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show, Tom Harrison failed to mention the amateur game at all and focused exclusively on the professionals. He, therefore, gave the impression that the ECB is disregarding its most important stakeholder, its club cricketers, in favour of finances”.
A “bottom-up” approach?
“Any return to cricket should be done through a ‘bottom up’ approach. This is a view shared by Public Health Adviser to the World Health Organization, Dr Brian McCloskey, who believes it is much easier and safer for local sport facilities to reopen than bigger events. This is why there should be equal, if not greater, focus on resuming amateur cricket over professional cricket this summer“.
“From a health perspective the risks are higher with professional cricket. The cross-country travel, the requirement to stay in hotels, and the presence of the media are all features of the professional game that increase the risk of transmission. Amateur cricket avoids these problems”.
“More significantly though, a summer without amateur cricket could have greater repercussions for the game than a summer without professional cricket. Why? Because a cricketless summer would undermine local club finances and see many of them fold”.
“What’s more, many amateurs will get out the habit of playing regularly and may never return to the game afterwards. With dwindling participation already a major problem, a cricketless summer would be another nail in the coffin“.
“However, if the professional game takes priority, and the amateur game is largely ignored and neglected, then the consequences may be greater than the authorities might think“.
“After all, cricket is nothing without its amateur players”.
We remain optimistic… with fingers crossed!
Under normal circumstances, I’d be scrambling around hunting down that second jumper before hitting the field, in what would have been our 5th league game. However, these are clearly not normal, but instead, difficult times. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say we’re all hopeful of a return to club cricket this summer – whenever that may be.
We will, though, have to wait. The main consideration remains the health and safety of all cricketers, officials, and volunteers involved in recreational cricket. We will ultimately be governed by advice and guidance issued by the Government and the ECB.
Whilst there is no change to the current state of play with regards to recreational cricket. This remains “suspended” with the exception of the use of net facilities. Many leagues have been proactive, suggesting various contingency plans based on returns in July and August. We all hope this happens, as a season without club cricket could see a detrimental effect on our great game!
We remain optimistic… with fingers crossed!