The return of cricket is a just reward for the patience shown by the game’s governing bodies, according to Dorset Cricket Board (DCB) development manager Keith Brewer, writes Ollie Young.
Brewer believes the timely resumption of the sport makes the logistical struggles of the last few months worthwhile.
He told The Independent: “We’ve been though a difficult process with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and government keeping us informed and us trying to keep clubs onside and keeping clubs going. To get the news we’re going to be the first sport that’s allowed back is a privilege and it’s hugely exciting.
“It feels like a reward for being patient and aligning ourselves with the government and, not being too pushy, now there is a feeling that there is an opportunity to show what we can do as a sport.”
The governing body for Dorset have decided to pursue a format that will see each league split into two localised divisions of six teams with each side playing each other once throughout the remaining weeks of the summer. To pay tribute to the key workers of the coronavirus crisis, the league will be named the ‘#thankyouNHS’ league and will get underway on Saturday, August 1 without the possibility of promotion or relegation.
Brewer admitted that, although it has been a challenge to set up the league, he believes cricket can shine after the ECB’s ‘adapted cricket’ guidelines have made a return to the sport easier.
“The initial response to the guidelines was surprise. We were expecting slightly more stringent measures but we’re pleasantly surprised and think our clubs can do it. I am confident in my clubs and the people who run them that we can do this properly and I have reminded everyone that we have a responsibility to keep people safe. Hopefully, we have a product that people enjoy and we will find that out over the next couple of weeks.”
Brewer, who has been development manager for 20 years, championed the power cricket can have within the community and admitted that, if the entire season had been lost, he would have feared for the game itself.
“All the way through this process, we have tried to promote cricket as a sport that can be played with social distancing but also the community impact that cricket has. “There’s a wide range of different ages and cultures playing cricket and it can bring people together. We really pushed that agenda and showed what we do in the community. If we get this right, we can show the sport in a good light and there is a responsibility that comes with that. I’m so pleased that we can make the most of this season because if we had lost it, we would have had participation levels dropping and clubs dying.” Clubs in Dorset will have the next couple of weeks to take part in intrasquad games and friendlies before the league gets underway at the start of next month. Brewer also hinted he might look at organising a 20 over tournament in September or October.