Hampshire League club keen to host 10-overs a side tournament when recreational cricket is given green light to return

A Hampshire League club will aim to host a 10-overs a side day-long tournament in a bid to provide some ‘competitive’ cricket in 2020.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 11:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 11:26 am
Hayling Island CC in Hampshire League action against Highfield at Hayling Park. The club will look to stage a 10-overs tournament when recreational cricket gets the green light to restart. Picture: Mick Young

Hayling Island CC skipper Rob Cordell is concerned that some players may turn their backs on the game - when it is finally given the green light by the government to return - because league cricket has already been cancelled.

The Southern Premier League have also abandoned plans to hold a league season in some format, but have talked about setting up two League Cup competitions. No such plans are in place in the HPL.

‘I was a little bit disappointed the Hampshire League cancelled the season,’ said Cordell.

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‘Some clubs said they couldn’t get their pitches ready in time ... ours is a council-owned pitch and they can turn it around in a week or so.

‘I do understand the league’s position, though, and the issues with things like changing rooms and teas.

‘The amount of extra work it would cause for the captains and other volunteers would be endless - it would make a long day even longer as we’d have to deep clean everywhere afterwards.

‘But I was still disappointed the league called the season off so early. The Southern Premier League are organising a cup - I don’t know why that couldn’t have filtered down to our level.

‘We could have played a mini league, something like 35 overs a side with a football points system - winner takes all. But it is what it is …’

Cordell is concerned that three months without any cricket has given players extra family time at weekends - time they may not want to give up so easily for games that are basically glorified friendlies.

‘A lot of players like having that competitive edge to games,’ he explained.

‘At Hayling we play to win. We play fair, but we play hard. I’ve always considered Sunday cricket as social cricket.

‘It’s a long day to play cricket without a competitive edge in my mind.

‘I just wonder how many players will be keen to play in friendly games.

‘To be honest, my heart wouldn’t be in it - I’m a competitive old sod!’

He continued: ‘My fear throughout the club is how many players have got comfortable with having their Saturdays off?

‘I’m sure the wives have got comfortable to having their husbands around to do a few more chores!

‘I think the wives are understanding if you’re saying you’re playing for promotion or relegation, or a cup, but it’s not so easy if you’re just playing friendlies.’

Hence Hayling’s 10-over tournament idea.

‘We’ll look to host a competition, invite some local clubs and put up a trophy so there’s a competitive edge to it,’ Cordell explained.

‘We’ve got two pitches at Hayling Park so we can hold all those games.

‘The top two teams in the group can go through to a final, and the bottom two go through to a plate final - so it keeps the interest alive for everyone.

‘Everyone would bowl one over, apart from the wicket-keeper.

‘We might see if we can persuade the local T20 league (the Portsmouth & Sussex League) to organise some games as well, and if the 10-over tournament works we could look to do an over-50 one.

‘There’s a lot of older players in the Hampshire League still playing at a good standard, but they may not be so mobile in the 10-over tournament - myself included!’

The pandemic has hit all clubs, and Hayling were confident of an impressive 2020 season before it took a stranglehold on world sport.

‘Things were looking good,’ said Cordell. ‘We’d had record turnouts at our winter nets, we’d attracted six or seven new players.

‘We would have had a good side. Hopefully we can maintain it next year.

‘We had players expressing an interest in Sunday cricket - we had six Sunday games lined up, compared to none in the last two years.

‘That’s why we want to organise some competitions, to try and keep the new players interested in some fashion.

‘We were looking to blood our younger players in men’s cricket on a Sunday … hopefully we can pick some of those games up in August.

‘I would love to think people will be chomping at the bit to play cricket.

‘But we might have to wait until the winter nets start to see if we’ve kept the same numbers.’

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Burridge CC chairman Robin O’Grady is also concerned about some players potentially giving up cricket due to a new life in lockdown.

‘I think the colts and the players in their 20s and 20s will still be keen,’ he remarked.

‘But the elder statesmen - the players in their 40s - we might lose a few of them, their wives have got used to them being around the house.’

O’Grady added: ‘I’m hopeful we can play in August.

‘Our trouble is that we share facilities with football, and if they can start in September then we can’t use our pitch.

‘It’s a shame - cricket is only played for a limited period. You basically get May, June, July and August and we’ll be losing three-quarters of the season. And you can’t recover that, because the evenings start to get darker.

‘The ball does seem to be the issue, but I am sure we can work around that.

‘Is it any different from golf or even football, the players are still taking throw-ins?’

All cricket clubs are concerned that a lack of games or coaching could result in youngsters finding a different leisure pursuit during lockdown.

With that in mind, O’Grady is happy to see his club’s youngest members back having fun.

Burridge last Friday welcomed under-9s for their first coaching session of 2020.

If a four-week ‘trial’ period is successful, they will then extend it to their under-11 to under-15 youngsters.

‘It’s all about the protocol, safety, having the right amount of coaches, having the parents in attendance,’ said O’Grady.

‘The feedback has been good - the parents said the kids loved having a bat and ball in their hands again, which was good.’

The pandemic has brought with it a financial blow to sporting clubs, but Burridge are weathering the storm.

‘Financially, we’re ok,’ O’Grady declared.

‘We had a grant from Sport England for £1,500, but we’ve had no other income.

‘The groundsman has carried on preparing the wicket, so we’ve incurred a cost there.

‘We’ve not been able to charge membership subscriptions, but what we have done is charge a token £20 for using the nets.

‘For the juniors we’ve charged a token £10, and that’s brought a little income into the club.

‘It’s not a desperate situation, but it’s been difficult - very frustrating.’