NORTH Devon chairman Mark Ansell is not prepared to write off the cricket season just yet, even though there is no sign of it starting anytime soon.
Fixtures in the Tolchards Devon Cricket League have been put on hold until further notice – and there are no indictions from the Government that recreational team sports will resume in the near future.
Ansell was originally among a number of cricket club chairman in Devon hoping the season would belatedly start in early July, but now admits that is looking unlikely.
What Ansell won’t give up on is the prospect of getting some ‘meaningful’ cricket played this season.
“The fact that golf and tennis can be played again is a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Ansell.
“If we get a decision from Government within the next month – and as the risk level comes down that may well happen – then it might still be possible to play some cricket.
“My strong view is we should be brave and go for it; get friendlies and a ‘pre-season’ going as soon as the Government allows.”
Ansell said pavilions will have to remain shut to maintain social distancing standards, but added that players should arrive changed into their kit.
A 50 per cent Devon League programme starting in early July is Ansell’s preference, although he concedes it might not happen.
“The longer the delay before there is a road map for sports like cricket, the less likely it is there will be a start in early July,” said Ansell.
“If we can’t start in early July, whatever cricket is played has to be meaningful.
“There needs to be promotion and relegation, otherwise what incentive is there for teams to travel long distances to play?
“With promotion and relegation every game will be like a cup final as there will e something on it.”
Alex Hannam, the new Bideford captain, is another supporter of playing ‘meaningful’ cricket if possible.
Hannam would support an extension of the Devon League season into September if that got games played, although he feels there comes a point when a tournament based on DCL fixtures is not viable.
“If we were able to start the season at the beginning of July, playing each team only once, then that would be great,” said Hannam, who has replaced Paul Heard as Bideford’s captain.
“Playing into September would be an option to complete as many rounds as possible. I think that would be fair enough to warrant promotion and relegation.
“If we got much later into the summer before it became safe to play any cricket, I think the league would have to be voided.
“Then it should be up to clubs to arrange local Twenty20 festivals as a way of playing some form of cricket.”
It’s not just players who are itching to get out in the middle: so are umpires.
John Silver, speaking for the North Devon Umpires and Scorers Association, said his members are willing to officiate in asked.
“The panel umpires for the North Devon League fixtures are happy to offer their services for friendly fixtures arranged in the North Devon area from July, should ECB recommend the start of recreational cricket for the rest of the season,” said Silver.
“Clearly, this will depend upon teams wanting their services and wishing to arrange such fixtures in the absence of the normal, competitive league matches.”