LOCAL cricketers are holding their breath that the new season bowls in on time next month as the country embarks on the first stage out of lockdown.
The 125-team Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League, which comprises most of Rotherham’s clubs, confirmed its intention this week to start on April 17, subject to Government approval.
Full overs will be played, with sanitisation breaks scheduled and groups at grounds limited to 30.
But with four weeks to go until the first matches, officials are conscious that national changes could be made and plans readjusted.
League vice chairman David Ward told the Advertiser: “A lot of people think things are set as regards the new season. Yes, we have a plan but things can change.
“It is a moving target and the Government can alter their minds at any time.
“They could say one thing on a Monday and change on a Friday and they have the legislation in place to do that, hence what they did this week restricting people flying in and out of the country.
“As Boris Johnson said, the third outbreak of Covid in Europe will wash up on our shores at some stage.
“Things are being reviewed on a week by week basis. The Government will be looking at the numbers and to see how the schools going back has affected them.
“It’s those numbers that are important. They will allow us either to progress or not to progress.”
When the action re-starts, clubs will not be providing teas. Players and umpires must provide their own.
Changing rooms will also remain locked, meaning players must turn up with their kit on.
Attempts have been made to make matches as normal as possible.
“We haven’t reduced the overs because that’s what the clubs wanted,” added Ward.
“Also, last year we realised that if we got our act together with sanitisation breaks then they don’t extend the playing time that much.
“The issue we have is access to facilities.
“It causes a problem for scorers because only one can be in the box. The other has to be outside. Obviously with the colder weather in April, clubs have to look at how they are going to protect those scorers.
“We did give clubs the option last year for one scorer, but ideally we want two.
“I also have had it confirmed from the ECB that changing rooms will continue to stay locked, even in Step 2 from April 12.
“Players will have to turn up ready changed until the ECB tell us otherwise.
“Last year when players turned up ready changed, we were in July in 20 degrees.
“In April it might be 5 degrees, but we’re going to have to live with it.”
The league’s two T20 competitions, involving multiple teams at the same ground, are being reviewed because of the 30-people limit.
Added David: “It is going to be an interesting season but everyone wants to play, and that’s the key.”