PLYMOUTH area clubs have been asked to help salvage something from the cricket season by signing up for a tournament once the coronavirus crisis has passed.
All recreational cricket in England and Wales has been suspended until further notice by order of the ECB. Chief executive Tom Harrison told clubs last week to stop preparing for the season.
In a letter to clubs circulated on behalf of the ECB by county boards, Harrison said: “Following the Government’s latest advice around social distancing, it is with sadness and reluctance that we recommend that all forms of recreational cricket are for now suspended.
“This extends to training, pre-season friendlies and any associated cricket activity.”
Although the suspension is indefinite, one club chairman is already looking ahead to a possible time when the ban is lifted.
Jonathan Goulder, the chairman of Plympton CC, has started canvasing neighbouring clubs to gauge interest in a late-season tournament of some sort.
Six other clubs have been approached – Plymouth, Civil Service & Roborough, Ivybridge, Plymstock, Cornwood and Yealmpton – and Goulder said early responses are encouraging.
“No one knows how long the coronavirus crisis is going to last and no type of cricket is going to take place until everyone is told it is safe to start playing,’ said Goulder.
“I have sent a round-robin letter to the clubs in and around Plymouth asking if, in the absence of any competitive cricket, there is interest in some sort of local competition?
“It could be anything: T20, 40-overs, 50-overs; it really does not matter. What I am looking to do is try to get some sort of cricket played, but only if it is safe to do so.
“I have already had expressions of interest from two of the clubs I have contacted and expects some more replies in the next day or so.”
Goulder said the prime concern of all clubs will be the wellbeing of members – and rightly so. But he warned clubs have to do everything to ensure their own survival.
“We are in a position where we pay rent and rates to Plymouth City Council and are looking for some relief on our bills,” said Goulder.
“If we are not playing cricket no money is coming into the club, which means no money to pay our bills.
“To generate some cash flow we had a fire sale in our pavilion to get rid of as much stock as possible and bank the money.
“As this crisis continues how we keep clubs alive is going to become a big thing.”