I sincerely hope that this note finds you and your families well and in good spirits. We have all been affected by what is the most difficult of circumstances and at times like this we often take the opportunity to reflect on many things.
As I sit in front of one of our leagues cricket pavilions looking out across a well manicured ground with the ground staff desperately trying to get some water on to a parched square I turned my mind to what is and what might be as the months pass on the 2020 cricket season.
There is no doubt that the GMCL is well placed to respond if and when the ECB and the LCF allow cricket to be played although ultimately this will be down to the Government and its Advisors to approve or otherwise. I know that the ECB and the LCF are doing everything possible to lobby and influence the Government on the re introduction of recreational cricket and I have represented GMCL in zoom meetings with both cricket organisations. What has been encouraging is the way in which the Leagues in Lancashire have come together to share experiences and initiatives with the sole aim of influencing and getting some cricket played in 2020.
The message from the ECB and the LCF is safety first, which we would all agree is paramount, but as I’ve said they are working hard on our behalf to get some cricket on.
I was really pleased that over 30 of our Clubs took part in the Zoom meetings, which provided the opportunity to discuss how Clubs are managing during these difficult times and for the League to explain how it plans to reintroduce cricket if the opportunity arises. The feedback has been excellent and this has been forwarded to the ECB and LCF for their consideration. Generally, Clubs are accessing the grants and loans as they require and I thank clubs for responding to the many questionnaire’s issued, but would urge Clubs if they do require any support or guidance please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to assist.
Cricket Clubs are often the centre of the community and from what we are hearing many of you are maintaining and in many cases improving the level of contact with your members and the wider community; this is a great opportunity to strengthen those links so please keep up this good work, it will pay dividends. Cricket Clubs cannot survive without your volunteers, your sponsors and your local supporters so please maintain contact with them and ensure they remain a most valuable resource. I fear that we may lose some if we don’t take care.
Another valuable resource that the League relies upon are the Umpires and I want to congratulate Alan Naylor and the team of Umpires that support him in the way in which they have been maintaining contact with the Umpires Panel. This has been a great example of communicating with a group of people that we will need when we get back playing, they too are raring to go again.
Talking of communications please keep an eye on the website, your emails and twitter to keep abreast of what is going on. We have published speedily any communications from the ECB and the LCF as they have been issued to us, but if you are unsure about matters once again please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com
I would like to ask anyone reading these ramblings how can we, the league, communicate better with the people who play the game?
You may ask why this question, well for me this group of stakeholders in the game are particularly important at this time. This statement doesn’t reduce the importance of the volunteers and others previously mentioned, it’s the team of people that make cricket the brilliant game that it is. The players are important to their clubs now and hopefully will be in the future whether becoming Umpires or Club Officials.
I would like to hear from the players to better understand their thoughts on if the season should commence when allowed and in what format. At the Zoom Club meetings there was a strong view that players were champing at the bit to play at both Senior and Junior Level. The League has worked up a range of options if we are able to start, which vary dependant upon the date that we are allowed to start. As we have previously published we wont be playing in the same divisions, we will be offering more local fixtures, to reduce travel and to offer some local derbies which subject to other relaxations may help with income over the bar. We will offer competitive cricket at all levels if at all possible, maybe over a shorter period and possibly if clubs wish, extend the season towards the end of September or even into October. Maybe by this point the ground staff won’t need to water the square!
Now moving on to the big question, will we play cricket this season?
In my view the limiting factor in starting the season is the issue of social distancing especially if a level of social distancing must remain in place. It is understood that as all Clubs and Leagues we await further advice from Government and the ECB on this matter but no doubt brighter minds than mine are thinking on the following lines:
- The game itself may have to change, with for example wicketkeepers having to stand back, gloves being worn by umpires, strict guidance on field placing and the like
- Players arriving at the Ground independently, already changed and taking their own tea
- Strict control over the use of toilets and showers, if showers used at all
- The issue of spectators, which will very much depend on local risk assessments being carried out.
- The buildings, access and other issues will all require taking into account.
- Generally people are saying that if the Club bars couldn’t be opened then T20 games may not be the best option as they attract larger crowds and could result in large numbers of people bringing their own beer and picnics. This may be appropriate in some locations.
These situations will need careful management, by in essence, Club Volunteers, who we need to nurture and look after as said previously.
My view, and not an official view of GMCL, after considering what’s being written and said, I can see the introduction of some junior cricket, probably activity based in the first instance and hopefully sooner than August. Just as the ECB have given some instructions around the use of practice nets this will be a Club decision whether to introduce or not. I cannot see Junior League fixtures taking place until later, again subject to how we manage the social distancing issues.
As to Senior Cricket I’m not hopeful, but those that know me, I can be miserable, so I suppose I’m never disappointed.
Having said this what it wont stop me and others doing is to represent the GMCL Clubs and to ensure we are ready when we do restart. Please be assured that we will continue to work on your behalf and keep you informed as things progress.
Finally who is writing these ramblings, well it’s me Mike Hall, and I sit on the Board of the GMCL.
For those that don’t know me I’ve been involved in local cricket for a long time, primarily at one club and what seems a lifetime an involvement in the administration of league cricket. I am also the Secretary of Egerton Cricket Club and also a member of the team that looks after the ground, which is a real interest of mine and is something as a League we need to strive to improve standards of our facilities.