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Cookham Dean CC 'hell bent on playing as much cricket as possible' across all age groups

Cookham Dean’s players are ‘hell bent on playing as much cricket as possible’ in the next nine or so weeks, after restrictions were relaxed sufficiently to allow competitive cricket to return.

The club played a number of friendly matches across all age groups last weekend in preparation for the start of the new Thames Valley Cricket League season this Saturday, and player Dave Brooks said they were entering a new fourth team in the competition this year, such is the appetite within the club for the game.

Some adaptations will need to be made both on and off the field, but the game will look and feel pretty much the same, and Brooks said the club can’t wait to get going again. In most TVCL leagues there will be no change to the final nine fixtures, with the July 11 matches now rolled over to September 12. Further down the divisions some teams have been forced to withdraw while others are struggling for pitch availability, meaning that matches are likely to be forfeited.

There is no promotion or relegation this season and the matches have been reduced to 40 overs a side to allow for hand sanitisation breaks and to clean the ball. The wicket keeper will no longer be able to crowd the batsman at the stumps and slip fielders must stand at least one metre apart. The batsmen will have designated running lanes to ensure they don’t get too close to the bowlers and the traditional afternoon tea, served by the home team, will be replaced by a 30-minute break with players bringing their own food and refreshments. Contact details will also be supplied for all players so they can be ‘tracked and traced’ if someone at the ground later comes down with COVID-19. Players must also wear their own kit and bring their own bat.

“Cricket grounds are quite big so managing the social distancing element is, in theory, quite straight forward,” said Brooks. “I think that the captains will have a duty of care to ensure their teams follow the guidelines, but in terms of the game itself, probably the hardest thing players will have to get used to is staying in the running lanes when they get marked out. I’m sure there will be some teething problems and people will occasionally run in the wrong place, but the risk from doing that is minimal.

“The slips are generally a metre apart, the wicket keeper is a metre from the batsman, even when he’s standing up to the stumps. So there’s very little modification to the game itself. The games are going to feel very natural. And in the modern world everyone brings their own kit these days. It’s very rare for people to share kit. In my day if you turned up with your own kit and bat you’d be seen as billy big boots, but that’s all changed now. Everyone can turn up ready changed and they’ll bring their own food and refreshments. The club has also bought in copious supplies of hand sanitisers.”

Cookham have managed to secure the Odney Club as a second ground for matches and Brooks is confident that players will abide by the new rules because they won’t want their club – or even their sport – to be the source of a new outbreak.

“We’re hell bent on playing as much cricket as possible in the next six to eight weeks, across all of our age groups from seven up to 70,” said Brooks. “I think people will follow the rules because no one wants to have a little cluster outbreak attributed to their sport or club which could set things back for everybody.

“There may well be clubs within the league that are struggling for pitches at certain points, but to some extent when there’s no promotion or relegation if a team can only play five or seven of their nine matches, so what? It’s more than nil.

“We’ll play as many as we can and we’ll try to win the league, but ultimately it’s about playing as much cricket as possible in a semi-competitive, organised environment. It’s great that the league is able to put on these matches because not all leagues are moving together in the same way. The Berkshire and Chiltern League was called off a couple of weeks ago.”

For more information about the new Thames Valley league season visit www.tvlcricket.com

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