Tolchards Devon League captains and chairmen talk about ‘getting the game on’

A cricket ball on the scorers table.

A cricket ball on the scorers table. - Credit: Archant

Devon Cricket League captains and chairmen have been making their views known on the best way to play some cricket this summer by completing a survey sent out by competition bosses.

There have been no games at all in the Tolchards Devon League this summer – and no definite start date either.

Any decision to start playing cricket will cascade down from the Government to the ECB and then to the Devon Cricket Board and the Devon Cricket League.

That decision may come sooner rather than later as the Warwickshire League has made plans to start playing from July 4 onwards based on guidelines they have received.

In contrast the North Devon League has already scrapped any plans to play competitive cricket this summer.

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Nick Rogers, the Devon League chairman, recently unveiled a provisional blueprint that has eight-a-side friendly cricket being played from mid-July as a warm-up to something more organised in early August.

Now clubs are chewing over a survey sent out by the league asking them what play they think is possible.

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The key questions are:

·Can your club carry on playing into September?

·How many teams can your club run?

·Is your home ground available into September and if so for how long?

·Does your club have the flexibility to play on Saturdays or Sundays, which would be a last resort?

·Would you be willing to play on August Bank Holiday Monday (August 31)

·Although the league’s preferred format is 11-a-side cricket, would your club be interested in adaptive cricket involving fewer players, adapted field placements and umpire positions.

·Club comments on how best to pursue a match programme in 2020

Although enthusiasm for eight-a-side cricket is lukewarm, clubs elsewhere in Devon would rather play that than nothing at all.

Generally, there is no appetite for any form of cricket that prevents wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps when spin bowlers are operating.

And the prospect of having to travel long distances to games in mini-leagues based on existing divisions does not have much support.

Alex Hannam, the new skipper of B Division Bideford, is certainly unenthusiastic about travelling long distances.

“Since it’s already been confirmed there’s no relegation or promotion, we would much rather play local games,” said Hannam.

“Also, there’s no way we would be able to travel long distances to away games with people from different houses sharing cars.

“The survey was mostly about playing into September, which we would be more than happy to do”

Mark Lake, Hatherleigh’s captain, is sceptical any cricket will be played at all.

“I feel it needs to be 11-a-side and, ideally, with the keeper allowed to stand up,” said Lake. “It’s not really cricket when a keeper is standing back to spinners.

“I would love to play some meaningful cricket, but I’m not overly confident it will happen.”

Lower down the league ranks priorities are different.

Simon Prideaux, the former Filleigh skipper, said all his team-mates want to do is play some cricket.

“Friendlies, local T20s or a mini-league of some sort: we don’t care as long as we play,” said Prideaux.

“Before we had to drop out of the B Division down to the bottom level of the league, we might have felt differently.

“For the time being we are not looking to go up the league but just to provide cricket for a local members.

“Players have been practicing in small numbers, our ground looks an absolute picture and we are raring to go just as soon as we get the go-ahead.”

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