Return to Cricket: what will recreational cricket look like when the Covid-19 ‘Lockdown’ eases?
With the recent announcement by the R&A for proposals for a Return to Golf put forward to government, many cricket clubs and schools up and down the country will be wondering what recreational cricket will look like, after the ‘Covid-19 Lockdown’ eases and when and how they will be able to play the game they love.
There is not much information or protocols coming out of the ECB, at present, on how recreational cricket can make a Return to Cricket; so we have asked clubs, schools, coaches and administrators how they think we can get things moving by planning a structure to do just that – Return to Cricket.
Just to be clear, this is not an official ECB survey or statement, this article has been compiled with the assistance and help of professional people in and around the administration of recreational cricket and there will, of course, be different issues at national, county, league and club level - so where do we start?
How to Return to Cricket as the ‘Lockdown’ eases
National ECB Competitions and ECB organized Leagues – Royal London Limited Over, Vitality T20, All Stars and Dynamo cricket + ECB Premier League cricket
The roll out and guidance for these tournaments will, in essence, be directed wholly by the ECB and the resources they have set aside to deliver these (which we understand, at the time of writing this article, is minimal, due to the furloughing of staff)
At present, there are regular video/phone conferences with ECB club league chairmen to try and establish a means to organise fixtures etc, however, it seems there is no guidance or protocols in place on how to Return to Cricket in the practical sense. It is therefore likely that it will not be possible to deliver any recreational ECB national competitions, leagues or tournaments this season, unless these are put in place very quickly.
So, the means to actually deliver any form of a ‘Return to Cricket’ is likely to come down to clubs and schools to find a solution, develop the protocols (to put forward to the ECB/Government) and to organise - with this in mind, lets see what can be done to start playing cricket activities at this level.
Other League, Club and Youth cricket
In order to Return to Cricket, we need firstly to outline the pathway, which will include providing the 'buy in' of your clubs and schools to provide ‘SAFE’ facilities and the putting in place of ‘SAFE’ training, net practice and outfield coaching systems.
So, let’s look at how you could make your clubhouses, playing/training facilities, parking areas, watching/spectating areas ‘SAFE’, ready for ‘Lockdown’ easing
Clubhouses and Spectator Facilities
Most clubs and schools will have members that are involved in companies and organisations including the NHS, Police etc that will have access to template instructions and protocols as to how to make their premises and working spaces ‘SAFE’ – these can be followed for use in your clubhouse and club playing facilities – use their guidelines – eg in one door, exit by another, social distancing tape for 2M guidance at the counter for food and drinks (or deliver to vehicles outside) – organise car parking so that spectators can be in their cars, for instance, to spectate and they can be spaced out all around the boundary to view the games.
Training and Playing Facilities
Most clubs and schools will have ECB Level 2 or 3 coaches and so it should be possible to use their expertise to plan a ‘SAFE Return to Cricket’. We have asked several them to formulate how to run ‘SAFE’ cricket training sessions and net practices, so that club members and school children are ready to play.
Working back from the ECB announcement that there would be no cricket until at least July 1st, in order to be ready to start playing some form of recreational cricket in July, outdoor net practice for U16s & seniors would probably have to start in early June.
We are assuming that the ECB/Government will give clubs/schools some form of a licence to run junior and senior practice and fixtures with some modifications and protocols in place like
- Face masks for coaches / umpires
- Disposable gloves for coaches & participants
- Social distancing marked out with cones/discs
- Appropriate Outdoor/Indoor refreshments and toilet facilities
- Hand washing facilities on site (before and after practice)
- Sanitising gel
- Most at risk groups asked to respect government advice
- No sharing of equipment
- Flexibility on subs
We think that these measures at least should allow clubs and schools to keep everyone safe and allow them to get some cricket going.
From there we can then look at getting a game or match on……
How to Play Existing Fixtures
There has been an awful lot of work already put into this, behind the scenes, by league and officials to date – Saturday ECB Premier League, other Saturday League, Sunday League and Junior Fixtures.
The main concern though is how we can actually play a game of cricket that is ‘SAFE’, even if you have agreed the fixtures?
Well, there are going to probably be some major tweaks to your league rules and possibly the laws of the game in order to fulfil any league fixtures – for instance, shorter matches - T20 instead of 45 overs, T10 instead of T20 etc – maximum one slip, gully etc for social distancing – gloves worn by all fielders?
There will also be some club members that simply do not want to return to cricket in this environment, so there may be a challenge in actually getting sides out to fulfil any existing fixtures that there might be in your club/school calendar. As a club you will need to consider how to manage playing fixtures with social distancing rules in place not only for yourselves, but for the opposition too? You as individuals or families have to consider what risk you may or may not be prepared to take this summer?
So our advice would probably be to start slowly and involve members in your decision making process and give them the options – try and get the ‘SAFE’ training and net practices in place, see what the appetite is to play some matches and how this can be done in a ‘SAFE’ environment - firstly by organising internal club matches and then look to play some friendly fixtures against local clubs and villages.
If you are more advanced in your club/league organisation, you may be able to fulfil your league fixtures by shortening the overs and playing junior and senior cricket on the same day – let us know how you are getting on with this planning and we can share these ideas with others.
We have asked some school and club coaches to work on both the training and playing aspects of a Return to Cricket and we will be publishing their ideas and coaching tips shortly.
Please do use the form below to post any ideas and feedback - we value everyone’s input on how we can get a ‘SAFE’ Return to Cricket