Cricket's response to Government Announcement - ECB and Wiltshire Cricket Statements

Message from Wiltshire Cricket Limited Managing Director, Peter Sykes

Following Monday’s Government announcements, there is clearly a lot of positivity now surrounding the upcoming Cricket season. With that in mind, I just wanted to share some thoughts from both an ECB and Wiltshire Cricket perspective …

ECB Statement in response to Government Announcement:

The ECB released the following statement yesterday:

The ECB welcomes the Government’s decision to permit outdoor grassroots cricket to return in time for the start of the 2021 season from 29th March. Cricket plays an important role in many people’s lives and helps to maintain positive mental and physical wellbeing. We are working with Sport England and the Government on each step of the Government’s Roadmap. We will issue further guidance shortly on what each step of the roadmap means for the game to support players, teams, clubs, coaches and umpires to prepare in time for 29th March. 

“We continue to work with Sport Wales and the Welsh Government on the safe return of recreational cricket as soon as possible in Wales.”

The Government’s roadmap also confirmed that school sport and after-school clubs can resume from 8th March. As part of this, activities such as cricket that can help pupils to be physically active while encouraging physical distancing are encouraged.

The Department for Education has published guidance to support the resumption of physical activity in schools, and coaches, teachers and venues should be aware of the following points: 

  • Each school has the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided
  • Pupils should be kept in consistent groups, with equipment cleaned between use by individual groups
  • Outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not
  • External facilities can be used
  • Competition between different schools should not take place until wider grassroots sport for under 18s is permitted
  • Schools can work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular and extra-curricular activities, but must be satisfied that it is safe to do so
  • Further details on the guidelines around provision of activity for after-school clubs will be provided shortly 

"Cricket has a huge part to play in helping the country back on its feet and we will work in partnership with the Government to achieve that.”

Wiltshire Cricket’s Additions to the ECB Statement:

As the statement above alludes, the ECB are now working very closely with the Government to ensure that detailed guidance for the recreational game is released in plenty of time prior to the start of the season. At this stage, the Government announcements have been at a very headline level but there are clearly still a number of questions that the recreational game will need answering for each step of the Government’s roadmap, not least around guidance in relation to travel and local outbreaks. Please rest assured that the appropriate questions are being asked and in due course appropriate detail will be provided to the game. In the meantime though, I would provide the following thoughts:

  1. We can now plan with some confidence that we will enjoy a full recreational cricket season. Therefore, mobilising your club (as I know the large majority will be doing) is now really important so as to ensure facilities, coaches and players are ready
  2. Cricket has a huge opportunity this summer to capitalise on the interest of both existing players/volunteers, but also a new audience who may be looking for things to do following months of lockdown. We should therefore look forward with ambition and excitement as to what this summer could bring
  3. Recreational Cricket demonstrated last summer that it could operate safely and in a compliant manner. This has been incredibly important in terms of the ongoing relationship between ECB, Government and the wider public, but will once again be of the utmost importance if we are to enhance our reputation as a game. There will be a lot of scrutiny on every industry as things open up and so it will be essential that Cricket operates responsibly once again.
  4. On the subject of compliance, the ECB’s Government approved guidance will focus on both the on field restrictions (similar to last season) but importantly guidance around behaviour and compliance off the field (changing rooms, spectators, social distancing etc).

Wiltshire Cricket’s Planning for the Season:

Despite the uncertainty that has surrounded us all winter, Wiltshire Cricket and our associated leagues and organisations have been working really hard to ensure that plans are in place for Cricket at all levels for the 2021 season. The general principle adopted has been one of planning for as much normality and for as full a season as possible, in the knowledge that it is better to have ‘normal’ plans in place and then revise plans (as we did in 2020) if needed. Therefore, Wiltshire Cricket has plans in place for all levels of the game this summer, including but not limited to; Adult league cricket, Junior league cricket, Women’s competition, Girls competition, All Stars Cricket, Dynamos Cricket, Talent Pathway Cricket etc. As mentioned above, every specific competition / programme / will now need to wait for the specific Cricket guidance to be released in order to understand if there will be any conditions attached to the delivery of those competitions / programmes (e.g. travel restrictions, limitations on group sizes etc). However, the important message is that whatever detail the guidance contains, I am confident that the collective cricket community in Wiltshire will be ready, and this should be a great cause of excitement and optimism for us all.