Cullompton CC chairman Richard Stevenson has admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if some clubs don’t survive the coronavirus crisis, writes Ollie Young.
Cricket pavilions and clubhouses across the country have been empty for the first three months of the season and Stevenson thinks that the lack of income could prove fatal.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, he said: “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some clubs fold. We have been lucky to get some money coming in through grants from the local council but not everyone has. There isn’t an awful lot of financial help around and not the level needed to keep clubs surviving.”
It is not simply financial implications that are a concern for cricket clubs; the lack of action has seen players walk away from the game and, generally speaking, club’s volunteers are often older in age, with Stevenson left to wonder if the older generation might be made to stay away from the game due to health concerns.
He added: “I’m worried for the lower levels and youth cricket because it can be difficult raising sides anyway let alone without the normal player numbers.
“It’s normally the older generation, who are high risk, that keep clubs going whether that’s by making up the numbers for a team or volunteering at the ground. What happens if they can’t get involved?”
Meanwhile, Cullompton have entered themselves into the ‘Covid Cup’ which will see them join three other teams in a midweek 20 over tournament. They will compete against Bradninch, Thorverton and Exmouth when the tournament starts on Tuesday, July 28.
The competition will be played in a league structure with two points awarded for a win and one for a tie/no result.
At the end of the programme, should two teams have the same points, the winner will be decided by who has scored more runs against the other in head-to-head games.
The east Devon club returned to action yesterday with a double-header against Exeter at Cullompton, which saw the club’s first and second teams take each other on.
The club’s top brass is, however, worried about how clubs will work within the England and Wales Cricket Board’s ‘adapted gameplay’ guidelines.
Stevenson said: “To comply with the new rules will be difficult. They are very complicated and we need to make sure we get it right. As a club, we are ready. The pitch is looking good and we’re bang up to date with the requirements but that hasn’t been easy.
“It has taken a lot of work and time from the committee to make it happens because there is a lot to do. It isn’t as simple as rocking up and just playing and I’m sure that clubs will struggle with it.”
The Devon Cricket Board is expected to confirm their plans for four-team localised leagues imminently with clubs beginning their season of ‘competitive cricket’ next weekend.
At this point, clubs have been playing friendlies amongst themselves with over 20 fixtures taking place in the county yesterday (Saturday).