It may not quite be cricket as we’ve always known it, but the sound of leather on willow will finally return this weekend after emerging from Covid-19 restrictions.
Friendly matches will start on Saturday and Sunday, and a shortened Devon League season, without any promotion or relegation, is due to begin on July 25.
Clubs across South Devon, who have already been observing ‘social distancing’ in net practice and youth coaching sessions, are concentrating on ‘in-house’ games this weekend before moving on to local friendlies, to minimise travelling.
Cricketers had not expected to play again until August but that situation changed in the course of a few hours last Friday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson first ruled out a resumption for the sport and then gave the go-ahead later in the day.
A series of ‘conference’ meetings between the England Cricket Board (ECB) and regional officers have been held this week to thrash out how games will be played, with an announcement due to be made today (Thursday).
But there are likely to be significant changes - on the field and off it.
Regular cleaning of the ball is an obvious area. There may also be limits on close fielding positions and wicketkeepers may not be allowed to ‘stand up’ close to batsmen.
Smaller pavilions could be off-limits, which may affect teas and bar sales,
Some captains and club officials have voiced their frustrations, especially as Government health experts have said that it is ‘safe’ to play cricket for the first time this summer, but others are erring on the side of caution.