Late guide­lines re­sult in rush to put games on

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan

Liverpool was one of the worst-hit cities at the peak of Covid-19 and the play­ers at Wavertree CC, one of the city’s first teams to re­turn, say their match to­mor­row will be a leap of faith.

“The guide­lines only came out yes­ter­day,” says club sec­re­tary Phil O’Brien, who was fran­ti­cally mak­ing last-minute prepa­ra­tions at his ground (above) last night. “Every­one’s a lit­tle bit un­sure, but every­one is des­per­ate to play, so we’re trust­ing in what we’ve been told about it be­ing safe.”

Since get­ting the go-ahead from the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board, O’Brien has checked again that all his play­ers are happy to re­turn. “It’s been so busy that I can’t ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber who we’re play­ing,” he says.

The Daily Tele­graph led a cam­paign to en­sure club cricket could re­turn this month. Fol­low­ing the Govern­ment’s up­date last night, the ECB of­fi­cially con­firmed com­pet­i­tive 11-a-side matches could take place so long as over­all group sizes, in­clud­ing coaches and of­fi­cials, were lim­ited to 30 peo­ple.

Most grass-roots leagues are now be­ing di­vided into pools, with com­pet­i­tive fix­tures be­gin­ning later this month or at the start of Au­gust. “Our league matches are in the month of Au­gust and then Septem­ber and we’ll run through till the end of Septem­ber,” O’Brien says. “The first team will get about eight games, which is about a third, but we have to ac­cept it’s not as bad as it could be.”

Wavertree are in the mi­nor­ity in manag­ing to get a game on this week­end. In the lower reaches of the Bris­tol District League, Eas­ton Cut­tle­fish CC say op­po­nents Bris­tol West Indies pulled out of their en­counter amid lin­ger­ing un­cer­tainty over the guide­lines.

Their cap­tain, Alex Jef­f­cutt, 28, says: “A mem­ber of their board came through and said, ‘Ac­tu­ally we don’t think we can con­fi­dently say we can com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions’. It’s be­cause of the short no­tice af­ter the guide­lines came out.

“It’s the Govern­ment’s fault, rather than the ECB or Glouces­ter Cricket Board.”

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