Question mark over cricket in 2020 as coronavirus delays Devon League season for foreseeable future

Hatherleigh captain Mark Lake. Picture: Mark Lockett

Hatherleigh captain Mark Lake. Picture: Mark Lockett - Credit: Mark Lockett

The Tolchards Devon Cricket League should have swung into action last weekend with the first round of fixtures across all 15 divisions.

However, the Covid-19 shutdown has put paid to any cricket in the foreseeable future – and there is a question mark over whether any cricket will be played at all this summer, not just in Devon but nationally.

Across the county club captains have been hoping for a delayed start to the season and suggesting the possibility of playing on into mid or even late September.

The Devon League season usually ends in the last week of August.

Mark Lake, the skipper of Premier Division newcomers Hatherleigh, is not optimistic about the chances of playing anything meaningful.

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“I can’t see there being any cricket this year to be honest,” said Lake.

“We live in hope, but if all professional sport is being delayed until September I can’t see us being allowed to play.”

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Lower down the league ladder things could not have been much worse for Filleigh in 2019 as they lost their 1st XI due to a shortage of players and only fielded one side in the H Division East.

Things could only get better in 2020 and skipper Simon Prideaux remains optimistic that the club will survive despite the trials and tribulations of 2019.

“We have got enough in the bank to be ok, especially if the league don’t charge fees or ask for full fees this season as looks like we won’t fit a full season in,” said Prideaux.

“I am glad to not have the headache of an overseas player in these uncertain times.”

Devon League officials are unable to predict when cricket might start – or whether the season is a total write off.

Without any prospect of cricket many are suffering financially as their primary revenue stream has been cut.

Nick Rogers, the league chairman and Hatherleigh chairman, said in tough times the competition needed to assist clubs where possible.

If no league cricket is played this season clubs will be given a subscription holiday. Clubs that have already paid for this season’s balls and affiliation fees will receive refunds.

In the event of a partial season being played, clubs will be expected to pay a corresponding percentage of their fees.

“It is incredibly important that we do all that we can to support our clubs through this most difficult of times,” said Rogers.

Bideford will have a new 1st XI captain if and when the season gets under way.

The new man at the helm of the B Division side is Alex Hannam, who succeeds Paul Heard as skipper.

Heard, who led the side for four seasons, left Westward Ho! during the close season to play Premier cricket with Hatherleigh.

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