On behalf of the Executive Committee, Gary Stanley - Chair of the 1st Central Sussex Cricket League - has today (Friday 20th March) issued the following update to all clubs regarding league activity in light of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:
Over recent days and weeks, the Executive Committee has been discussing the impact of Coronavirus on our league and its clubs. Following the ECB's recent announcement regarding the suspension of all recreational cricket, which I am sure you have now all seen, we have reached a conclusion as to how we should proceed. At this stage, I must stress that it is the absolute priority of Sussex Cricket, and the Executive Committee as a part of Sussex Cricket, that the health and welfare of everybody involved in the Sussex Cricket League is protected, be it players, officials or any other volunteer. Every decision we have made or will make in the future has this at its centre.
We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation that nobody could have expected and we appreciate that all of our clubs will be facing challenges that they will not be prepared for. The Executive Committee, along with your SCF Territory Managers will do whatever we can to help you get through this uncertain period.
It is pointing out the obvious to say that things are moving at a fast pace and that the landscape will undoubtedly change over the coming days and weeks. We have formed a strategy for dealing with this, which is intended to be fluid and based on securing as much cricket as possible, but doing so on an informed basis, in a timely manner, with as much expert information to hand as possible and having the health and wellbeing of our clubs, players and officials as the main priority. The strategy is in three stages, as detailed below: -
Cancellation of all league related meetings in March / April including the League Council meeting on 30th March and the umpires meeting on 19th April. We will disseminate all necessary information by e-mail or by post (specifically the playing conditions books). Depending on what happens in the meantime, we may offer a conference call on a date TBC for clubs that want to discuss anything.
If we conclude by Friday 10th April that the season cannot begin on 2nd May as scheduled, we will cancel all scheduled fixtures in May. This would allow us time to see how things develop and place us in a position to make further informed decisions. Please note that that there is no possibility of delaying the season and extending past its current scheduled finish, because around half of all clubs use council facilities that are given over to football in September.
If it becomes apparent that we will be unable to resume cricket by the beginning of June, we will work on the basis of cancelling all fixtures for the first half of the season and playing the second half. This would effectively mean beginning the league season on 11th July, with all teams playing each other once. In the top two divisions, all matches would be limited overs rather than declaration. We would look to catch up with the T20 competitions on the previous one or two Saturdays. We see this as the last stage at which the league can be treated as competitive with promotion and relegation implications. Any start after this date would need to be discussed if we get to it.
The advantage of invoking this stage would be that we buy some more time to assess the situation as we move through early summer when the epidemic is now being forecast to peak.
I want, once again, to stress that these stages are not set in stone, but they give us a reasonable template for action, with flexibility built in, to amend if circumstances dictate or allow.
We believe this plan gives us the time to consider each phase of the epidemic as it progresses, make decisions based on fact and is, at present, a structured approach to the current unprecedented situation. We, along with the Foundation, will continue to keep you abreast of material developments, if and when they occur, including any further advice from the Governing Bodies.
There are a few burning questions which we know a lot of clubs will ask, so I will try to address them here: -
we know that many clubs will find it difficult from a cashflow point of view to purchase a full season's worth of balls from Gray-Nicolls without knowing whether they are going to use them. If you are concerned about this, our advice is to hold off ordering, at least until we advise you regarding Stage 2. You will then have a little more certainty as to how many balls you will / won't need. We are in discussions with Gray-Nicolls and will advise further in due course.
Unfortunately, this is your responsibility and you need to make the call as to whether you bring your overseas across to the UK (if not already here). We appreciate the cost implications, however other than keeping you closely advised on when cricket will start, there's not much we can do. Of course, you may not ultimately have any say as to whether they can enter the country.
If you are holding off booking council facilities, our advice is to get on and do it. The councils are waiting on us to tell them when cricket can start just as much as you are. It's far better to have your pitches booked as normal and then cancel them if not needed, than it is to scramble around at the last minute. You'll know in plenty of time to avoid financial penalties.
Junior Leagues / Women & Girls / SJCF
Please be assured we are well aware there needs to be contingency planning communicated in the same way as above. These discussions are happening Monday evening and updated plans for all Junior League cricket etc. will be communicated by the Foundation on Tuesday.
We hope that this answers your immediate questions and gives you an idea of how the Executive Committee is approaching this situation. No doubt you will each have questions and we will do our best to answer them, either individually or in future communications. If you want to ask anything, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ensure you copy in your SCF Territory Manager.
In the meantime, best of luck and stay safe!