The 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League returns on Saturday with club cricket in the county thriving despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Five clubs have joined the League for the new season, contributing to an increase of 12 teams to the world’s largest adult cricket league. A very warm welcome to Brighton Malayalee CC, Crawley Nayee CC, Hindu Unity CC, Mid Sussex Heathens CC and Turners Hill CC.
A total of 351 teams will take part in the League’s 36 divisions this summer, from the county-wide ECB Premier Division to the six regional Divisions 12s.
The return of a full league programme has been highly anticipated after an enforced absence last summer, although competitive cricket was possible in 2020 through the highly successful August Cup.
Roffey CC are the defending Premier Division champions from 2019 but, while Eastbourne CC were the winners of the August Cup last summer.
As well as taking part in the League, 137 teams have entered the 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League T20 competition, with Finals Day scheduled to take place at The 1st CENTRAL County Ground on Sunday 19th September.
No T20 competition was possible in 2020, meaning Eastbourne are the holders after their victory over Roffey in the 2019 final.
Looking ahead to an action-packed summer, Jo McGowan, Chief People Officer at sponsors 1st CENTRAL, said, “It’s fantastic to see the resumption of the 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League, with this important sporting pillar continuing to bring joy and support to local people. The size of the league, and the sheer number of teams taking part, is a clear indication of the high demand for local cricket, which is greatly welcomed after all the challenges faced throughout the pandemic.
“We’re very proud of the opportunities and accessibility that our partnership with Sussex Cricket brings to the local community, and we look forward to hearing all about the stories and endeavours of the season to come. Good luck to all the participating teams!”
Gary Stanley, chair of the 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League, said, "After a strong inaugural season, followed by the success of the 2020 August Cup in very trying circumstances, the 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League is looking forward to a full league and cup programme in 2021.
“Passion and hunger for cricket within our recreational clubs has never been higher and that has only been exacerbated by the events of the last year. We are very excited to see what the season holds. Roll on 1st May!"
Gary Wallis-Tayler, Sussex Cricket’s community cricket director, added, “We are all excited to start the new cricket season after what has been a difficult 12 months for everyone across the county.
“To see 12 new teams enter our league and record numbers entering our T20 competitions, clearly shows the demand for cricket is there. Clubs will need to continue to follow Covid-19 guidance, which we hope will be eased as we move through the summer. This summer will prove to be an exciting one both professionally and recreationally and I wish everyone luck for the season ahead.”
Despite the return of a full programme, strict measures to combat Covid-19 remain in place, including sanitation breaks every six overs, no changing room use, no provision of teas and no spectators. Full guidance is available on the ECB website.
Sussex’s cricket clubs have lost a great many friends and colleagues since the start of the pandemic. As a mark of respect for those sadly no longer with us, all clubs will observe a minute’s silence prior to the matches on Saturday 8th May.
Fixtures and results in both the 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League and 1st CENTRAL Sussex Cricket League T20 competition are available here.
A weekly round-up of the action in the top three divisions of the League, courtesy of Mark Dunford from Sussex Cricket’s newspaper partner, Sussex Newspapers, will be available on the Latest News page of the Sussex Cricket Website.