Covid-19 Update from the Saracens Premier Cricket League.
Since our last update there have been regular communications from the ECB, CCC and County to all clubs, and we are grateful to all of you who returned your club’s responses to our short survey. We do not intend to repeat what you received from the ECB and others, but we can summarise the present situation as follows:
ECB.The ECB has confirmed on 15th May a slight loosening of the lock-down rules in allowing net practice to take place under strict guidelines, which we recommend you read carefully before going ahead. You can get these details from the ECB’s email.Other than that, recreational cricket is still suspended, and we await further announcements.
FORMAT.Over 80% of clubs responded to the survey and there were many helpful comments and suggestions made. There was a majority in favour of no promotion or relegation this season. There is one caveat to that, and that relates to the Premier and Championship divisions where under 11.e) of our constitution no decision by member clubs affecting the structure of the top two divisions shall be made without the majority of the clubs in those divisions supporting it. Therefore we will send out to the top twenty clubs a simple question asking whether they wish there to be one club relegated from the Premier to the Championship and one club relegated from the Championship to Division One with corresponding promotions from the Championship and Division One. There will be a number of conditions attached to that proposal. Broadly, as we indicated in our last update and subject to the Government and ECB guidance, we intend to start the league season on 11th July. Most clubs have said that they could play beyond the normal league season and we have decided that the latest possible date that we could start (and get in 9 games) would be 25th July and some clubs who lose their grounds would have to play away for the last two games. Because of possible weather and Covid-19 cancellations, there would have to be a minimum of 7 games played. All matches would be under the limited overs format. To reiterate, this question is asked of the top twenty clubs and we will require 14 of those 20 to be in favour for there to be promotion and relegation as suggested. All other divisional league games would take place without promotion and relegation, but we do intend to award trophies as usual to all divisional winners. Clearly there will be no fines for cancellations as there may be ground availability issues as well as player availability issues related to self-isolation. Lastly if we get the green light from the Government and ECB there will be, as with the opening of net practice, a number of stringent conditions which we do not intend to speculate on here.We must wait and see, but we think it is important to have a plan in mind.
GROUNDS AND PITCHES.If we are allowed to play from 11th July, we will clearly need properly prepared pitches to play on.Unlike the professional game, we are unlikely to have three or four weeks’ notice of the start and therefore clubs are asked to bear in mind that if we do go ahead there may be only a short period of time between a ‘yes’ and actually starting. So please ask your groundsmen to understand that there will have to be some preparation in anticipation of a start on 11th July. If that work turns out to be in vain, we are afraid there is nothing we can do about that.
CRICKET BALLS.As anticipated in our last update, the ECB’s charitable arm has announced an interest-free loan scheme to allow clubs and leagues to buy cricket balls for this season but not to have to pay for them until May 2021. So the offer made by us previously (requiring clubs to pay for 35% of their balls this year) will no longer apply as,in effect, the ECB will buy the balls and clubs will have to repay the loan by next May. The actual details are still to be finalised in that Readers will not be back at work until June and we have to negotiate with them as to how many balls will be purchased and how we will get them to the clubs but either way you will have no ball purchase costs this year. More details will follow. Those clubs that have already paid the league will get their money returned this week.
That is all we have at the moment. Further updates will follow when we have more to tell you.
18th May 2020