It’s looking unlikely any local clubs will play this summer says Bradford League president
A SENIOR official at one of the country’s most prestigious cricket leagues believes it will be “a miracle” if there is any recreational cricket this summer.
Keith Moss, president of the historic Bradford Cricket League, admitted that “any confidence we had weeks ago I think has evaporated”.
The former Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman is optimistic that clubs will withstand the current crisis, helped by financial support from the government and the England and Wales Cricket Board, a view shared by other Yorkshire grassroots officials as reported HERE.
But with recreational cricket suspended indefinitely, county cricket seemingly extremely unlikely to go ahead and international cricket set to resume only behind closed doors from July at the earliest, the wise money is on a blank summer at grassroots level.
“I think it will be a miracle if we do play,” said Moss.
“Quite honestly, and I talk a lot to my colleagues, any confidence we had weeks ago I think has evaporated.
“Professional cricket is in lockdown until at least July 1, and we’re on a hiding to nothing really. I think it’s going to be damned difficult to start at all.”
Moss speaks with candour and also with sadness.
He recently visited his beloved Pudsey St Lawrence CC. “It’s tragic,” he said. “The square looks superb, the outfield looks great, all the seats have been painted and here we are, no cricket.”
But as well as being a great supporter of club cricket in Yorkshire, Moss is a realist, and he sees too many logistical challenges confronting clubs to permit the likelihood of action this season.
With social distancing measures yet to be relaxed (or, indeed, any suggestion that they will be unless a vaccine is found), proud club cricket venues such as Pudsey St Lawrence must wait before they can welcome back Kipling’s “flannelled fools”.
“My biggest fear is things like the changing room situation,” added Moss. “You’ve got 11 guys in a very small area, multiplied by two, so how do you get around a problem like that?
“Also, what happens when it’s a cold day? You wouldn’t want to be sitting out as players, never mind as spectators; you’d want to be in the dressing rooms, trying to keep warm.
“Can spectators come into the clubhouse and get a cup of tea if it’s cold? Can they come into the clubhouse full stop?
“There’s so many questions when you think about it, and that’s before you even consider the various things on the field itself – the slips standing in close proximity, the close fielders around the bat, the umpire who has to stand behind the stumps as the bowler runs past him. There’s so many factors.”
Without regular testing for coronavirus – difficult enough for key workers to access, let alone those involved in the world of club cricket – the problems highlighted by Moss are not easily remedied.
Even if the clubs themselves survive, there are fears that players and umpires could be lost to the game, that their enthusiasm may wane and/or that they may be concerned about possibly contracting the virus.
Participation numbers are already a problem, with so many competing attractions and time pressures nowadays, and it is perhaps such long-term effects that will be most keenly felt.
For now, the prevailing atmosphere in cricket – as in life – is one of uncertainty.
“No one knows how long this is going to go on for; how long is a piece of string?” added Moss.
“I was optimistic a month ago that we would start in July, but, in a month, I’ve changed because it’s just not going that way as things stand. We can only do as we’re told and see what happens next.”
The ECB has issued this fresh new statement with regards to recreational cricket: “We are expecting to receive further clarity from the UK government in the coming days and in turn we will share greater detail and guidelines with the game as soon as we are able,” it read.
“Our priority is to support our colleagues and clubs across the game to deliver elements of outdoor cricket in a responsible way that does not compromise safety.
“We completely understand the level of patience that recreational players have had to demonstrate so far, and know that most will be desperate to return to the nets to practice.
“We ask for a little more time to plan out the best way to deliver this opportunity to everyone as safely as possible.
“The health and wellbeing of everyone in cricket remains our No 1 priority.
“We will share further updates towards the end of the week along with a support plan for our clubs to follow.”
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