Cricketers stumped by a virus-ruined summer are poised to salvage at least some action when the 2020 season is finally allowed to start on August 1.
A shortened programme of league ‘friendlies’ is planned, with no promotion or relegation, but that will hardly dismay players for whom the glorious weather has merely added to their frustration.
Ex-Torquay wicketkeeper Nigel Mountford, chief executive of Devon County and chairman of Premier Division Bovey Tracey, admitted: “This wonderful summer has just rubbed salt into the wounds.
“There is a lot of frustration and, when we were allowed to open up our nets at Bovey last week, people were desperate to book a spot and get there.”
Devon CCC and League officials have kept in close touch, before and after the English Cricket Board (ECB) announced the ‘first-class’ restart on August 1.
“I can’t see club cricket starting before then, but once the first-class game does start, it’s going to be difficult to stop everyone else,” said Mountford.
“I think we will have about a six-week window in which everyone will want to play as much as possible.”
League games will carry points for added interest, but promotion and relegation has already been abandoned.
The Devon county side won’t play any of its usual three-day championship games, but they do plan to fit in one-day matches against old rivals like Cornwall and Dorset, to minimise travelling.
The positioning of wicketkeeper and slips, who usually stand less than two meters apart, is one obvious ‘risk-area’, although adjustments are likely if it helps games to restart.
The authorities have already banned the use of saliva on the ball, but Mountford pointed out: “The ball still has to be passed hand to hand, so umpires may carry antiseptic wipes or sprays to get round that problem.
“There is a lot of common sense around, and I am sure everyone will do everything they can to get at least some cricket played this summer.”