Covid 19 and the future Cricket Landscape

During this Covid 19 pandemic there has been some major uncertainty with all sports, not just cricket. This includes sport at a professional level and community sport. It is all good well and say professional sports have to play behind closed doors in a stadiums but you can’t do that at sporting fields in the local areas. It is near impossible to control restrictions around the public facilities as they are surrounded houses, park’s and shops al used by the general public. Moreover it seem by many board members at the number of Leagues and Associations around the country want cricket to start on time. They will play with different rules and regulations around hygiene and social distancing but how could do this be done at a community level?

One place where community cricket is set to return is in the Northern Territory which is great news for Cricket in Australia. Cricket will start it’s regular season in the top end on June 6th. This is possible due to NT low rates of Covid 19 and being able to loosen their restrictions earlier than the rest of the country.

All club’s in the NT will follow the Covid 19 safety plan assessment. This assessment is set guidelines which includes not shining balls, no contact celebrations and separate drinks for each player. These guidelines are possible at a professional or semi-professional level cricket but is it at a community level? How will this translate at a community level and not allow players to shine a ball and use wax instead?

In Victoria it is unlikely cricket will start in October, as the AFL will likely have its way in playing through to later months than normal using the shared grounds. In addition to this community football want to play through this extended period as well as this create logistical issues for all levels of cricket.

Grounds are one problem but also are hygiene practices. How will clubs be able to ensure that the long tradition of making afternoon teas for both teams be at a safe enough level? These are questions that will be l ask at a community level and no doubt putting a bigger strain on club volunteers.

But to a start time, we could see a later season commencement for Premier Cricket potentially late November- early December with make-up days, playing Saturday and Sundays. For the local Associations and Leagues, they could start even later with back to back games and more One Day and T-20 Cricket. What the season could look like well that is up in the air for Associations and Cricket Victoria to work out.

Another spanner in the works is the recent staffing restructure at Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia redirecting all their money due to the failing economy. So there goes most of the major funding to cricket in Australia. This will also impact all facets of cricket, including the recent success in Women’s cricket as funding will not spread around as well as it has in the past few years.

In many of lower grades across the country there is a shortage of umpires. These games are usually officiated by the batting side, with or without bias. So, with no official umpire and how well will restriction be this be monitored? This is another issue which will need to be discussed at cricket board meetings across the country.

There is a lot for the cricket community to work through before community cricket will be able to play at all. Not to mention there will be more restrictions on clubs to raise much needed finances. Community sports reply on social aspect of the sport a lot more than professional level. Social functions being on top of the list, but with restrictions impacting attendances at venues to 100 people at a function how will clubs be able to survive to keep their doors open? Community Sport is going to look extremely different to what we are used to. This Covid 19 pandemic has impacted everyone’s way of life and will continue to do so into the future, even once Government’s lift restrictions to allow a full return to sport.

Written by: Patrick Morrow

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