By Mike Popplewell
THE THREAT posed by the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the social and economic life of the country and the inevitable threat to the region’s forthcoming cricket season became a reality on Wednesday, when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced a recommendation to suspend all recreational cricket.
This was intended to include all training/practice sessions and pre-season friendly matches.
‘Recommendation’ in this sense is superfluous really. The fact is local cricket is effectively suspended immediately, and indefinitely, with David Young, chairman of the Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League, writing to clubs in all four divisions announcing a proposed three-stage plan formed by the league management even before the ECB announcement.
Firstly, all non-essential meetings and events are cancelled. Stage two plans to postpone all April’s fixtures with the hope that it may be possible to fit these in later in the season if the situation changes in the next five weeks to allow further assessment.
None of the current scientific forecasts suggests that is likely, so stage three suggests that in the event of being unable to play games in May and June, the first half of the season would be cancelled and only the second half played.
This would mean putting the start of the season back to the beginning of July and each team playing the other only once.
Should this plan be instigated there are the added problems of just what form the competition would take. For example, would it be classed as a competitive season with championships, promotions and relegations at stake?
Mr Young emphasised the fact that these suggestions are not set in stone but merely “a reasonable template for action, with flexibility built in”. Clubs will be consulted on all these matters.
There are extra complications with regard to contracted overseas players in respect of their travel and visa issues and it will fall on the clubs, and not the league, to sort these problems out.
In any event it is a chaotic start for the Gordon Rigg Garden Centres in their first season of sponsorship. Apart from the lack of exposure as sponsors they will doubtless suffer some financial loss from reduced trade in-keeping with the current economic crisis.