The rest of the summer should be treated as a celebration of cricket in Gloucestershire, according to the county’s cricket board (GCB) chief executive officer Steve Silk, writes Ollie Young.
Silk, who has worked tirelessly during the lockdown to ensure the survival of the county’s clubs, told the Indy: “We have to ensure that the 2020 season can be as successful and memorable as it can be. We want it to be a celebration of cricket. The aim and ambition for this season is for anyone who is normally involved in cricket or wants to be involved can do that in the normal way. Although we have lost some lovely sunny weeks, we still have a minimum of seven weeks to make the most of.”
The Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB) are using the phrase ‘meaningful cricket’ to decide what they have organised on behalf of their clubs. Although, they are yet to formally announce it, Gloucestershire is expected to have localised leagues of eight and will finalise their plans next week.
Silk explained how he had spent his time during lockdown, including raising an eye-watering amount of money in support of clubs.
He added: “Firstly, it’s been a huge challenge and we spent the first couple of months making sure the clubs and leagues were financially stable for when cricket returns. Through outside organisations we have bought in £800,000 to support our clubs and the teams that haven’t received any money is because we’ve worked closely together and they haven’t felt like they needed to bring in any additional funds. In the last month, we have been building up to the return of cricket and so we’ve busily been working behind the scenes even before we had a start date to be prepared.”
Silk praised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the way they have handled the crisis.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to have cricket back and we’re hugely appreciative of everyone behind the scenes at the ECB. It’s no small feat what they’ve achieved getting cricket back first.”
Following the ECB’s guidelines this week, the CEO admitted there are still challenges ahead.
“I am not confident that all of our clubs can pull this off but the great thing about this is that there is no pressure on anyone to get games on if they can’t. We currently have 14 clubs who want to play but can’t because local authorities are just saying no. We’re working on that to try and help find alternative options.”
The GCB have worked closely with Somerset and Wiltshire cricket governing bodies and Silk has admitted that, despite the adversity brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, he has still managed to find some positives.
He said: “The more we have thrown ourselves into it and tried to make it positive, the better it has been. As three counties, Somerset, Wiltshire and us, we have never worked so closely together and it has been great to show unity with them. It has also been nice to be with those clubs who we don’t normally work very closely with and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved.”