We are delighted that the UK Government have given their permission for recreational cricket to return from next weekend.
This has been a tremendously difficult period for the community game and I would like to thank everyone for your patience and unreserved efforts to keep your clubs afloat and ready for play.
The concerns you have outlined to us, have been our concerns. If a whole season had gone by without play, we could have lost players, old and young, from the game of cricket forever.
Finances have been stretched to the limit and the inability to open bars and pavilions has left a dent in club’s financial positions and social life.
Leagues have been forced to abandon competitions, ground staff have had to continue their work, not knowing if their pitch preparations would ever host a competitive match. Our hearts have gone out to the boys and girls who have been longing to take part in their favourite summer sport and do the best they can, whether this means as part of their All Stars Centre, or competitive junior cricket.
During this challenging period, there has been some criticism of the ECB’s approach. It is worth pointing out though, that the decision to allow recreational cricket to restart lies at the highest level of government, not ECB or Kent Cricket. In order for recreational cricket to commence, we have required one of two things to happen:
- The government to relax the gatherings rule that the maximum number in a group is 6 OR
- The government to give special dispensation to recreational cricket
Given the lockdown extension in Leicester and threats elsewhere, the timing of a widespread relaxation of the maximum group rule has been, and remains, uncertain.
Therefore, cricket’s case for a return to play has been based on the fact that the game is at the core of communities across the UK; in Kent alone, we have over 300 community clubs.
The game at recreational level is a critical contributor to the long term physical and mental health and well-being of the population. For a summer sport like cricket, every day counts, and cricket deserves special dispensation to ensure that that this critical contribution is not completely lost.
We have also been able to demonstrate that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other ball sports currently permitted (under strict guidelines) such tennis and basketball.
All this work and progress has not been visible, simply because we are operating within the context of a hugely complex public health crisis management programme. With the genuine threat of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable in our communities, and with media scrutiny of every Government decision, we have been working in a world of step-by-step progress and decision-making, backed up with medical data and full risk assessments.
With today’s announcement, the Government have given recreational cricket the green light and ECB will shortly be publishing their approved guidelines to help community clubs and players to prepare for recreational cricket’s return.
The journey back will not be straightforward and it will require a lot of hard work and careful interpretation and application of the guidelines. Whether you are able to restart next weekend, or need more time to prepare, the Kent Cricket Community team are here to support you. I would encourage you to reach out if you need any advice or have any questions.
In the meantime, this weekend, media attention will be focused on the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants. If you are reopening your Pavilion bars this weekend, we wish you every success. We know how critical this income will be and how important it is to reconnect with the cricketing family. Please ensure you proceed with caution and act in-line with all Government guidelines on bar opening and health & safety regulations. It is important that we demonstrate that a return to cricket, on and off the field, can be safe, orderly and well-managed.
Whilst cricket fans across the country have rightly been looking forward to the return of international test cricket and the Men’s and Women’s domestic cricket seasons, we have been acutely aware that at community cricket clubs across the county of Kent, we have been having to play a waiting game. The Government have now given us the decision we have all been longing for and we look forward to recreational cricket returning to the clubs pitches, village greens and parks across Kent from next weekend.
Kent Cricket – CEO