Those involved in recreational cricket are hoping for more restrictions easing, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) remaining at Step 3 of its roadmap, from 17 May.
The article below will summarise what the next phase (Step 3 in the ECB’s Roadmap) looks like for England, as well as my own thoughts on recreational cricket.
Important to stress that this is subject to change and the ultimate source to reference is the UK Government and the England & Wales Cricket Board.
This article on recreational cricket has been updated at each stage, as restrictions have eased in England. There will be separate advice for other countries.
An anticipated further relaxation of the rules around coronavirus in late June has been paused by the UK Government.
The main changes for cricket relate to hospitality, spectators, changing rooms and travel. After many restrictions, this is a significant step in the return of the grassroots game, as we recognise it.
That said, the ECB guidance is clear in stressing those involved don’t have to change straight away, rather it’s a case of if and when they feel comfortable.
Spectators are allowed
It would be fair to say that the previous guidance banning spectators at the same time as allowing members of private cricket clubs to return was confusing and inconsistent.
Spectators can now watch cricket at public and private venues. Social distancing is still required obviously and no more than 30 in any group outdoors.
Multiple groups of up to 30 are allowed at a cricket club, with the cap of up to 1,000 spectators.
Clubs don’t have to in any way intervene with regards to people who are watching cricket on a public footpath or on public land. (The inference being if large groups are not following Covid rules, it is a matter for the police).
Use of changing rooms
The Government guidance permits the use of changing rooms BUT actively discourages it. I know that seems contradictory but their use increases risk.
Cricket clubs aren’t obliged to provide changing rooms and the official line is that it would be better if players and officials continued to arrive already changed and shower at home afterwards.
If you do want to use a club’s changing rooms then spend as little time in there as possible.
Separate households can use changing facilities at one time but should social distance from others they don’t live with (or are in a support bubble with).
This was clearly written by someone who’s never been in the majority of cricket club changing rooms. Exhibit A is the pic of Arthington CC above (pre-Covid I ought to stress). Realistically, you’d be best to have one or two at a time in these scenarios.
Common sense (and decent ventilation) are other considerations!
Car sharing returns
Car sharing is permitted from 17 May 2021.
This is another massive positive in terms of the simple practicalities of getting 22 players plus scorers, umpires and others to a club. Up to this point, the issue was how non-drivers and juniors managed.
Cricket teas can resume (indoor and outdoors)
Cricket clubs can start offering cricket teas again but they must follow Government guidance for hospitality. I’ve not read the guidance more than a passing scroll, safe to say it’s involved.
Safety assessments, cleaning and managing the safe flow of attendees are just a few of the considerations. Some clubs will be set up for this and others won’t.
Of course, many clubs have already been offering food and drink (classified differently to cricket teas!) to members, as Step 2 laid out.
Editor’s Note (17 June 2021): Some clubs are circumnavigating the need to personally do teas by hiring outdoor options like a pop-up catering van but the cricket tea, as we know it, has yet to make a comeback.
The sheer amount of admin and responsibility to be Covid-compliant has put off many cricket clubs, allied with the fact that lots of players have got used to bringing their own in the past season and a half.
The main change is permission to do so indoors.
Clubs can serve customers in groups of up to 6 or 2 households indoors, or in groups of up to 30 outdoors.
For those clubs serving alcohol, table service is necessary, even if no alcohol is ordered.
If clubs don’t offer alcohol, customers can collect food and drink from a counter but have to eat while seated at a table.
Grassroots cricket in England and Wales has separate guidelines.
The ECB’s Covid-19 hub is a decent starting point. All in all, lots of restrictions easing and the experience of recreational cricket will be all the better for it.
See the resources below too:
UK Government Guidance for Recreational Sport
ECB England guidance (from 17 May)
Covid FAQ – (from 17 May)
Outdoor Cricket in Wales
Covid plan for junior and open-age cricket
Poster for Socially Distanced Cricket Matches