The start of the season is planned for Saturday 17th April. No-one is quite sure what the position will be at that time so we should continue to work towards that date with the intention of starting the league season.
We are currently in lockdown with all schools shut until at least 8th March. All we know is that nothing will open before the schools and that date won’t be confirmed until mid-February at the earliest. Thereafter, it will depend on the rate of infection as to when anything else may open up. This in itself will take two or three weeks for the information to come through which will take us into April. We do know that cricket has a good reputation and it was noted in higher places that last season took place within certain guidelines which we were well followed and did not cause any spikes in infection rates. We hope that this will be taken note of in the next few weeks.
After having to abandon the league programme last season, the Exec are very keen that we have a league season in 2021 and remain as close as possible to the normal regulations. Promotion and relegation are a key factor in our competition and we want to resume this process this season. However, we do realise there is a possibility that the schedule of league matches could well be disrupted. We may well have a delay to the start of the season. If this is a week or two, we can look to play the games at the end of the season. A later start could mean we utilise one or two Sundays for league games. We could even postpone the cup competitions and use those Sundays for league games. Alternatively, we could simply count any missed weeks as abandoned games. We cannot decide on this until we have a better idea of dates and how many, if any, weeks the start is delayed. However, it may be worth clubs and players discussing the issue amongst themselves to decide where you would stand in certain circumstances. Feedback is welcome from all particularly if this is a club view rather than an individual. Last season, we got very short notice of the resumption date and there is no reason to expect anything different this time. We could easily find the start of the season postponed indefinitely and then be told on a Monday that we can start the following Saturday. Whilst we might like to have a vote on these issues, there may simply not be time so the better we understand everyone’s position, the easier it will be to find a decent solution.
If and when we do get to play cricket, we may have to play with restrictions. Last year, changing rooms were out of bounds and this may continue into this year, We could start cricket before clubhouses and bars can open which will affect income and the opportunity to shelter. If players are changing outside and there are no teas provided, it may be better to reduce the tea interval and the length of matches. We played 40 over games last season with the cup restrictions to try to ensure more people got a game in a limited season. We could go for this option or elect to play under Palace Shield rules as a reduced overs game. Either way, restrictions may be lifted over the season so consideration needs to be given to playing some games under one set of conditions and then switching mid-season.
As last season, we may find other restrictions popping up during the year. Travel between counties has been ruled out at some times this winter but we have also had restrictions between boroughs within Lancashire. So, we don’t know what may be brought in and who may be affected. Additionally, some grounds may be affected whether run by a third party or used for other sports. We will just have to deal with any of these as they come up.
In summary, we don’t know the position yet for mid-April so we can only continue on the assumption we will be able to play full games from April 17th so all clubs should be gearing themselves up for this. Whilst we may get some feedback from the ECB, until the government start to lift the lockdown, we won’t really know anything. However, we can consider the “what if” scenarios and try to put ourselves in the best position possible when anything of note change. We welcome any feedback on this especially where it has been considered by the club rather than the thoughts of an individual with their personal preferences. The Exec will be in constant contact and continue to make clubs aware of any likely changes to this.