For those of us in schools cricket who spent decades watching the endless rains in May followed by the frustration of a glorious September when the ground was too hard and dry, and the grass too short, for rugby, the prospect of some schools cricket in September and maybe October is very exciting. Groundsmen have mostly been very helpful in maintaining squares and outfields despite the lack of a summer term.
As with everything else at the moment, there is huge uncertainty, but a very large number of schools are indeed intending to play some cricket this coming term. External fixtures are especially problematic as things currently stand, since there is conflicting guidance from the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport: the former’s guidelines say external fixtures should not be played at all while the latter allow them as long as strict measures are in place. The HMC Schools Sports sub-committee are pressing for a resolution as soon as possible. The DfE issued revised guidelines for FE and Sixth form colleges (allowing matches as above) three days ago, so let us hope that the same for schools will be released very shortly.
Stop press: I learned today (Wednesday September 2nd) that the DfE have indeed issued revised guidance which allows inter-schools fixtures under certain condtions. Schools need to check that these are met.
For external fixtures, MCC have come up trumps and a very large number of schools have fixtures against them (Elizabeth College Guernsey and Victoria College Jersey both played them last Friday). In all, they are playing 58 matches against schools this term, mostly 40-over games to avoid catering problems. Other adult teams, for example local clubs, are also providing opposition (and sometimes grounds), as well as some County Academies.
However, if allowed, then many schools are also hoping to arrange inter-school fixtures. A widespread feeling has been that we’ll wait to see what the situation is at the beginning of term (ie this week) and then decide. In the South West the top tier of the National Schools 2020 Twenty20 (sic) are proposing to play through to a regional winner.
Even if it turns out that inter-school matches prove too problematic in the light of government guidance, then schools will anyway play intra-schools games such as house matches. Most schools will be operating in “bubbles” so that instead of a 1st XI it will be an Upper Sixth XI or Lower Sixth XI (whatever the nomenclature). Below the senior level, that would be the case anyway.
This column will continue every Tuesday until the “pop-up” cricket season has more or less finished. I shall keep it as up to date as I can.
Do feel free to send results in the usual format (or comments) so that others can see what is being managed elsewhere.
During the summer (since March) I have been commenting on the Coronavirus and also sshown on this page links to various articles etc about the state of schools cricket. If you would like to see this quite lengthy page, then please click here. It is also available longer-term under the heading (left) of Results archive.