Why Hasn’t Cricket Returned?

With the return of football and the Premier League starting tonight. It pains me to ask why cricket hasn’t yet resumed in England following the lockdown implemented through the outbreak of covid-19.

After all football is a contact sport, yes the nation’s favourite but is it not easier to socially distance whilst playing cricket? Could the ECB not come up with a suitable plan already for a reduced summer that could for one year only adhere to social distancing rules? Just think how exciting it could have been watching cricket during lockdown whilst working from home?

Limited slips and evenly spaced fielding positions would be measurements that needed to be in place but other than that, getting changed and where players sit themselves before coming out to bat would be the only conundrum. Cricket could have taken advantage in the closed premises of its surroundings to be aired on television, if television would indeed have cricket that is.

Controversial talk of the hundred competition has been postponed for another year but I really think cricket has missed a trick in badly promoting this from the get go, just think if the hundred was the only cricket competition out there and available on TV, those die-hard fans already depressed with its ‘trendy’ revolution would have no option but to watch the reformed game through gritted teeth.. after all, surely the hundred cricket is better than no cricket? Isn’t it?

Some say the County Championship wouldn’t have to make any amendments, often sparsely attended it is one game watched by fans that probably wouldn’t break the 2-metre rule. Even behind closed doors the game could have easily continued but I do understand the fixture congestion now imposed through the initial sporting ban in this country. Perhaps the longer format competition now has to give way, but in a funny way the longer format competition would have been least effected.

An August resumption is most likely, should the ECB get their act together with a plan, but already eating into the summer months by then, new football season in full flow the cricket campaign is likely to take a back seat. Not needed to fill the void of sport on our TV screens… Once again, an opportunity missed by cricket and the ECB.

The well being of players and staff has been one of those also of concern. I myself have struggled with three months imprisoned to government ruling, not knowing when it will ever end, still not knowing if and when I’ll ever be able to visit a friend’s house, drink or eat in a pub or restaurant, or even take a holiday to enjoy a different climate and culture. Cricket players have been left on the scrap heap far worse than most, some training on their solitary. Not knowing when their careers can resume?

Former Nottinghamshire bowler now Assistant Coach Paul Franks stated “The lockdown feels like it has lasted forever. To have been so close to the season and then have everything stalled has been quite challenging from a mental and physical point of view.”

“During the first few weeks, no-one was quite sure what would happen next.”

“I think we knew it wasn’t going to be a short-term break, but we didn’t know how long it was going to take. I managed to gradually relax at the start and put cricket to the back of my mind for a few weeks. If I was sat by the phone every day, waiting for a call saying you can come back to training, I would have risked putting myself in a much worse place.”

Franks is not alone in having to control his mental well-being with cricket a young persons game it has been a challenging time for all those involved since the outbreak lead to postponement ahead of the season eve, not knowing when they can get restarted again as their 2020 campaigns slowly crumble away, day by day.

Non-International players aren’t on huge wages and it’s up to those clubs, now running at a loss to ensure they can still survive. Without gate receipts, broadcasting money and sponsorship cash can more than ever supplement clubs by them simply playing and airing games. Cricket needs to come back in order to pay the bills, it should have by now come back in a safe and socially distant way, the ECB has really missed a trick by stretching it out for so long. It needs now act quick, or 2020 will be the year that never was.

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @dannypea socially distanced County Cricket played in the sunshine at Nottinghamshire

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