In much-celebrated news, the UK government has given permission for recreational cricket to resume from next weekend, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed. The board also stated that it will shortly be publishing the approved set guidelines to help the clubs and its players prepare for the game’s return.
Earlier, the Boris Johnson government has refused to give the go-ahead. The ECB, in fact, has been involved in close dialogue with government over recent weeks, attempting to pave the way for the sport’s return among its amateur ranks amid increasing frustration.
In the ECB’s latest guidance sent to clubs, it specifically stated that Step 4 on its roadmap for a return to normality would include “no use of changing rooms – arrive ready to play”.
Internal discussions between the ECB and its stakeholders have included proposals based around six and eight-a-side matches in July, in the event that restrictions do not cater for full 11-a-side cricket.
Many clubs over the summer have suffered substantial losses without the recreational game which in turn has created a gaping financial hole since it’s revenue us mostly dependent on membership subscriptions, venue hire revenue, and junior coaching fees.
The ECB made available £20million in grants and loans in April, while Sport England, Sport Wales and local authority schemes have helped keep some clubs afloat. Nearly 250 clubs have so far claimed £700,000 from the ECB schemes, and more than 2,600 have benefited from funding in some form across all avenues.
There is a real danger that a cricket-less summer could result in many being unable to survive. Others, meanwhile, are more concerned with the repayment of debt in 2021, or how they will spread maintenance and renovation costs across two years.