Skipper would just be happy to be back in the middle
THE 2020 cricket season is likely to go down as one of missed opportunity for Barnard Castle skipper James Quinn.
He had high hopes of another successful tilt at the NYSD title after his side finished third in the 2019 campaign. But with all recreational cricket still suspended until further notice, it looks increasingly likely that no play at all will be possible.
“At the start of last week, I was pretty positive that we would get started in July,” said James.
“However, the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) now saying professional domestic cricket cannot start before August 1 rules that out.”
He believes Barney would once again have been among the favourites for the NYSD title this season.
The club had signed two Yorkshire all-rounders Karl Carver, who has played eight County Championship matches, and Eddie Barnes, an England under-19 player, to help spearhead Barney's title challenge.
“These were two really strong signings and with an Aussie, Harry Austin, coming over as an amateur, I think we had the strongest side on paper for a number of years, with the core being the Barnard Castle lads who have been there for the past six or seven seasons,” added James.
While competitive cricket continues to be ruled out, clubs have been told they can organise nets, subject to a number of strict ECB guidelines – something the skipper hopes can happen soon.
And with a further loosening of virus restrictions allowing more people from different households to get-together in a socially-distanced environment, he is hoping that may mean he will see more of his team-mates.
“We have been keeping in touch through social media,” added James.
“I know a number of club and team members have been out running to make sure they keep fit and well.
“When we do get back together, we will be the fittest we have been for a while,” he joked.
“With the rules on practising, we hope to see the club open for senior training in the next week or so – but that would be in pairs or very small groups.
“But a lot of the lads are just keen for a bit of socialising as we have not seen each other.”
Meanwhile, the ECB has welcomed the Government’s move to support the return of top level sport played behind closed door.
This week saw the return of horse racing at Newcastle on Monday, and Premier League football is due to return in a couple of weeks’ time.
An ECB statement said: “Over the coming week, we will seek to understand the specific guidance from the Government's medial teams so that we can provide support for cricket clubs who will be eager to see their communities safely playing in small groups.
“We look forward to seeing players from across the game start returning to the field.”
Chief executive officer Tom Harrison added: “Naturally we want to see cricket being played at every level. We remain hopeful of seeing both domestic and recreational cricket this season.
“That can only happen though when it is safe, and we have said throughout this crisis that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the game is our key priority.
“Across the recreational game it has been heart-warming to hear of clubs where players have returned to the nets.
“As children start returning to school, we look forward to exploring how those guidelines and learnings can be deployed for cricket.
“This can then see the recreational game continue its phased return as soon as we have Government approval.”