The ECB announced last Friday that the recreational game, which has not started this season due to the coronavirus crisis, can begin on July 11. Leagues have been sent guidelines which are thought to include a limit of 30 people at the ground, batters running down a clearly marked path and players staying two metres away from each other or one metre for wicketkeepers and slip fielders.
Bats and balls will be sanitised regularly while the ball will not be passed around between deliveries and indoor facilities will not be used. The ECB Yorkshire Premier South – in which the town’s highest-placed teams Barnsley Woolley Miners, Elsecar and Cawthorne play – has put forward a plan to their clubs to return on July 18 and play an 11-a-side 40-over tournament until September.
The South Yorkshire Cricket League – in which most of the rest of the town’s teams play – is set to wait a week longer, until July 25, to resume. The ECB Yorkshire League South is planning for its 12 clubs to be split into groups of six, based on geography, with each of them playing each other home and away, then the group winners meeting in a final. The league will give its clubs some time to consider this proposal and, as long as an agreement can be reached, they will be back in action a week tomorrow.
Barnsley’s first team play in the ECB Premier while their four other senior sides are in the South Yorkshire League. Their chairman Phil Chapman said: “We would obviously be delighted to be getting some form of cricket. “We believe that, while no promotion or relegation was the correct decision, it’s important for the games to be competitive. We will, as a club, use the remainder of the season to blood some of our exciting young players in higher teams and give them valuable experience at a higher level.”
Cawthorne’s Mark Brook added: “We are happy to support the league’s proposal. The weather is hampering our preparation as we can’t get the players in to net which is frustrating.”
The South Yorkshire League have split the clubs in their nine divisions into two groups and will play a mini cup tournament. All other cups have been cancelled and each division is due to play finals at the end of the season. The league is in dialogue with clubs to assess whether all of them want to play the remaining games and to finalise the rules and guidelines. Barnsley clubs in that league include Darfield, Houghton Main, Rockingham, Green Moor, Penistone, Monk Bretton, Worsbrough Bridge, Kexborough, Silkstone United, Higham and Dearne.
The Barnsley Junior Cricket League and Barnsley Sunday League are both yet to decide on a return date. Ian Cunningham, chair of the Barnsley Junior Cricket Association, said: “Our committee will be meeting to decide next steps plus we will be asking clubs about the teams they would have available to get some games played throughout the summer. I don’t see a league tournament as we tend to finish our leagues in July but hope the least we have are some friendly tournaments."
Donald Sykes, of the Barnsley Sunday League, added: “The management committee are due to hold a virtual meeting on Saturday to discuss the starting of the season. “There are numerous protocols which must be complied with by clubs before cricket can be played. It’s not just a question of turning up and getting on with it. “We have received a set of guidelines from the Yorkshire Cricket Board, so we’ll take it from there on Saturday.”
The Huddersfield League – in which Hoylandswaine play – is likely to re-start at the end of this month or early August, possibly in a friendly format. The Pontefract League – in which several town clubs play – is also due to start on July 18.