Late guidelines result in rush to put games on
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.”