After weeks of announcements and delays, the inevitable decision was finally made today (Friday).
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A release to all clubs from the league's executive committee said: "I wrote to you on 9th June to advise that there was growing uncertainty around the prospect of beginning league cricket on 11th July. It was acknowledged that we needed to give you clarity on this 2-3 weeks in advance to allow for ground and other preparation, therefore I promised that we would make a further announcement by today. The options were: -
"Begin a half season of 'league' fixtures on 11th July, with all teams playing each other once, albeit without promotion and relegation and with considerable social distancing guidelines; this would only be possible if we had received clearance for recreational cricket to start and clear guidance around the form it would take,
"If this had not been received, advise you of our plans for cricket for the remainder of the summer.
"You will doubtless have seen the 'Roadmap for the Return of Recreational Cricket' published by the ECB last week. The roadmap is a 5 Step plan to recreational cricket starting up again, with the current position being Step 3. The key piece of information required was the date at which we could go to Step 4, which was described as 'adapted gameplay'. Broadly speaking, this is cricket matches adapted to the Covid-19 environment. On the ECB call this week, it was made clear that two pieces of Government advice are required for the ECB to move the Step 4, being clearance for recreational team sport to recommence and an increase to at least 15 in the size of gatherings allowed (it is currently 6). Simply put, that has not happened yet and we do not expect it in the next week or so. Therefore, the Executive Committee cannot tell you today that league play will be able to start on 11th July and so we have no option but to abandon the 'half season' plan. In its place, we are going to offer the following options for our Clubs: -
"We are putting together an 'August Cup' that is tailored to how we think Stage 4 is going to look. It will be based around shorter formats (likely T20) unless we are allowed to play longer matches by then, local matches (given the issues with car sharing) and social distancing measures on and off the pitch - the ECB are currently formulating guidance around Stage 4 and this will hopefully be available in final form around the end of June. We envisage groups of 6/7 teams (so 5/6 matches each), aligned by location and broad ability level, with a finals event for group winners in early September. Entry is entirely optional, it is simply our best effort to provide some meaningful competitive cricket in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Current plan is for the August Cup to start on 1st August, but this will need to flex based on when cricket can start.
"If you are not interested in the August Cup, everyone has an existing set of league fixtures from 11th July that can be played as friendlies. They will stay on Play Cricket for ease of reference, but it will be up to you to arrange between you. Of course, these will also be in 'adapted play' format as and when that is allowed. If your scheduled fixture cannot be played because of long travel distance (again, the issue of car sharing rears it's head) or the opponent not wanting to play, we will try within reason to help you arrange alternate fixtures.
"A mixture of the above or, if you wish, no cricket at all.
"It is of course possible that, by 11th July, we will have clearance to play some cricket. However, everyone will have different lead in times for their ground to be ready. Some clubs could probably play tomorrow, others will require several weeks, especially those relying on local authorities. For some clubs, you might get some friendlies in July, perhaps before entering the August Cup. Others may wish not to play at all. The Executive Committee respects the wishes of all Clubs and recognises that you all have different circumstances.
"So, next steps. In order to start formulating the August Cup, we need to know who would like to take part. The link below allows you to quickly advise us whether you want to enter, which of your teams will take part and whether you are concerned about your ability to play home matches by 1st August. We recognise that you may not be able to field all your XIs and you should discuss within your club to get an idea of member interest. Please respond via the link by Friday 3rd July. If you don't respond, we will assume that you are happy to play friendlies as and when permitted. If you are unable to access the link, please e-mail your responses to [email protected]
August Cup Entry Form
Once we know how many teams are entering the August Cup, we will put more meat on the bones. More information will be provided on the Sussex Cricket Foundation Club Webinar on Wednesday 24th June from 7.30pm. We would encourage ALL clubs to dial in to hear key updates from Sussex Cricket & the ECB as we move steadily towards a return to play. As always there will be an opportunity to ask questions to any of our guests, in order to help us facilitate a Q&A and to ensure your question gets answered, please send them to Gary Wallis-Tayler in advance – [email protected] Joining instructions to the webinar can be found below.
Topic: Club Webinar 24th June
Time: Jun 24, 2020 07:30 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 847 6723 0294
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+442034815237,,84767230294# United Kingdom
+442034815240,,84767230294# United Kingdom
So in summary: -
- No league season starting 11th July
- Group based Cup competition in August - optional
- League fixtures can still be played as friendlies when cricket returns.
- Respond to the link provided by Friday 3rd July.
- We will continue to update you as and when there is any change in circumstances. In the meantime, please continue to stay safe.