In February, the Palace Shield Exec issued a statement on the position regarding the coming season. Some feedback was received from clubs and the position was reviewed at the Exec Meeting on Wed 10th March.
The start of the season is planned for Saturday 17th April. No further information has come to light from the government or cricket authorities since the initial roadmap was announced. Schools reopened on 8th March and the next target date in the roadmap is 29th March for the return of outdoor sport. A further extension of the regulations is expected on 12th April. Which of these dates will allow the return of full scale practise sessions and matches is unknown at this point although clarification is expected shortly.
We also know from the roadmap that most indoor facilities will need to remain closed until at least 17th May. So, it looks like games in the early part of the season will require similar set ups to last season with no changing rooms, only one scorer in the scorebox, possibly sanitising breaks etc. with the additional proviso that no-one is going to be able to shelter in clubhouses in adverse weather. The roadmap did suggest a return to normality in late June.
The feedback from clubs from the February statement suggested that most wanted to play a full season if possible and to keep the same set of rules throughout the season. Some were willing to use Sundays to complete the fixtures whilst others were not. There were also concerns about the weather, particularly in the early season, any further unknown restrictions on travel or variations by area and the fact that some of these dates may change in future.
The exec considered all these issues before coming to the conclusion that we should start on Saturday 17th April as planned unless there was a major change in the regulations or dates from the government or the ECB. They also felt all games should take place under normal Palace Shield rules with a 1.30pm start. Players will be required to provide their own tea / refreshments for the foreseeable future so we would revert to a 20 minute tea interval. Whenever the relaxation of further restrictions come in, it was felt that many clubs would find it difficult to provide teas in a safe environment throughout the season so we would retain this position on teas until further notice. We also expect further guidelines to be issued by the ECB in advance of the season so we would adapt our playing conditions accordingly once known.
In the early part of 2021, three teams have withdrawn from the competition. In normal circumstances, these would each face a £100 fine. Given the exceptional circumstances of the past 12 months, with some teams and players not playing in 2020, no indoor practise this winter and little chance for clubs to regroup, it was proposed to waive these fines. Furthermore, in case other clubs are in the same position, we would also waive this fine for any other team withdrawing providing the withdrawal was confirmed by Saturday 20th March. This way, we can make any required adjustments to divisions and / or fixtures well before the start of the season.
As usual, we welcome feedback on the issues mentioned in this statement and they will be further discussed at the Management Meeting on Wednesday 24th March by which time we will, hopefully, have a clearer picture of the way forward.
Palace Shield Executive Committee 10th March 2021