The new guidelines
The Strollers cautiously welcome government guidance regarding the resumption of social cricket in England in March 2021. Specifically, this states that "formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies".
The ECB has now released its guidance (multiple documents of it!), setting out its approach. It is more comprehensive than last season, but in our view, doesn't appear materially different. Please read these, including “England guidance”, “playing plan summary”, and “plan for organised cricket matches” here: www.ecb.co.uk/covid-19
Taking sensible Covid-19 precautions, and thus minimising risk to our players, supporters, spectators and opposition, is absolutely at the forefront of our minds. On this basis, and after consultation with our player base and with other clubs, we have decided that we can implement sensible risk mitigation measures, and we will aim to begin our UK season in April – albeit not “as normal”.
So what is normality? Even with the optimism regarding vaccination, we must recognise that the infection rate is currently higher than it was when we resumed our season in 2020, and that new variants continue to appear. We must recognise that not all Strollers will have received their first dose of vaccine by the start of the season, let alone their second, and there is an “immunity lag” even after both vaccinations. The target date of 21 June for “back to normal” also predates full vaccination, and we do not know whether people who are immune themselves can still transmit the virus. People will have different perceptions about levels of risk. On this basis, while we are heartily sick of the virus and its behavioural impacts, including care, protection and distancing, we need to continue to be cautious.
People are very keen to play – there is a palpable sense of excitement to be able to get outdoors again. But now is not the time for complacency: we need to continue to take the pandemic seriously. This means that, at this stage, the club plans to implement a single policy for the 2021 season as a whole, even if the opposition are more relaxed and even if government or ECB guidance changes over the course of the season. We will review this in June, but we have a responsibility to be cautious.
· Do not travel to the match if you are displaying symptoms
· Arrive changed
· The same travel and car sharing arrangements as last year
· Bring your own kit if you can; sanitise before and after use. We will have pads and bats (but not helmets) available for shared use but expect all players to have their own gloves.
· Practise social distancing as advised (including slip fielders and wicket keeper standing up), including during breaks; no closer than arm’s length team celebration on the fall of a wicket or between batsmen between overs
· Run straight while batting to avoid umpires, bowler and your batting partner
· Wash your hands regularly – and bring your own hand sanitiser!
· No spitting!
· Do not use sweat or saliva to polish the ball at any time. Return the ball direct to the bowler where possible, not via several fielders. Do not give the ball to the umpire…
· Do not give anything else to the umpire (hat, jumper etc.); leave your bits and bobs at the boundary or behind the wicket when you bowl. Furthermore, our umpires will not be wearing coats
· Follow our hosts’ instructions on use of loos etc.
· Bring your own tea and do not share water bottles – bring enough water for the day; assume there will be none provided by the hosts
· Be careful with regard to multiple scorers and with use of the scorebook
· Match fees to be collected electronically by the captain of the day
Putting your name down for selection will be an acceptance that you will comply with these guidelines, and support the captain on the day who will be expected to enforce them. It will be the responsibility of all of us to comply, for the captain to be robust with players and opposition alike, and for your committee to communicate our views (on tea etc.) to the opposition teams that we play, both “home” and away.
Thank you for continuing to take the risks of this pandemic seriously.