By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CRICKETERS in Devon could be back in action by mid-July if the Covid-19 pandemic continues to subside.
The ECB outlined a return to playing plan to Premier League chairmen last week, which has now been shared with members of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League executive.
No definite dates have been released yet, but the framework is largely in place to get games on, once ECB gets the go-ahead from the Government.
Nick Rogers, who as Devon League chairman took part in the video-conferencing briefing delivered by ECB, said the news was encouraging for clubs and players.
He added: “The ECB has had a three-stage plan to deal with the situation: protect, prepare and play.
“The protect phase progressed to the prepare phase when the Government said players could start training in the nets again.
“The prepare phase is still in place, but ECB have been working on ways to get players playing again.
“There are no definite dates yet, but it is possible that starting in mid-July we could be playing in short-sided games with teams of eight.
“ECB have said keepers won’t be allowed to stand up to the stumps and slips will have to remain two metres apart.
“The only thing they are still working on is what to do about the umpire at the bowler’s end.
“Hopefully, clubs can use these games as pre-season preparation for something more meaningful from early August onwards.
“The league management committee has some ideas about what meaningful cricket can be played and will put them out there in the next few days.”
Toby Codd, the captain of Premier side Bovey Tracey, said his players are chomping at the bit to get out in the middle.
“I am a little bit sceptical about how eight-a-side cricket is going to work, but any cricket is better than nothing at all, which is where we are now,” said Codd.
“It feels weird to be six weeks into what would have been the season and not to have played at all, especially in the glorious weather we have been having.
“Players have been practising in pairs for the last couple of weeks and, following the latest relaxation, we have started drawing up groups of six to train on different nights.
“Hopefully we are taking the first steps towards playing some cricket this year, even if it is just a locally based 20 or 50-over competition.”