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Club cricket takes first steps towards a resumption

 

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It is hoped that the Return to Play protocols can run parallel on both sides of the border and to that extent NCU officials met with a representative of each of their member clubs last night and the North West held their meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (stock photo)

It is hoped that the Return to Play protocols can run parallel on both sides of the border and to that extent NCU officials met with a representative of each of their member clubs last night and the North West held their meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (stock photo)

It is hoped that the Return to Play protocols can run parallel on both sides of the border and to that extent NCU officials met with a representative of each of their member clubs last night and the North West held their meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (stock photo)

The first tentative steps for a return to club cricket will be made next week with information packs being distributed to prepare for restarting activity.

Cricket Ireland received provisional approval yesterday and limited training can resume in Northern Ireland once the Executive confirm a move to Step 2 of the easing of lockdown restrictions and clubs undertake pre-opening protocol compliance measures.

The Return to Training protocols have been approved in the Republic and clubs in the NCU and North West were told of them at Zoom meetings this week.

The information packs will include detailed guides and checklists in preparation for clubs to restart activity (including cleaning guides), risk assessment, booking forms and the contract tracing process plus advice regarding training practices that comply with social distancing and health protocols.

Until and unless clubs are in a position to fulfil all those requirements, including the appointment of a Covid-19 officer, they will not be allowed to resume training, which can only restart in Step 2.

Although the Republic have a confirmed date of next Monday when they move into Phase 2, players there could be restricted in that they cannot travel more than 20 kilometres from their homes.

It is hoped that the Return to Play protocols can run parallel on both sides of the border and to that extent NCU officials met with a representative of each of their member clubs last night and the North West held their meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Step 2 only allows players to train in small groups with Step 3, probably three weeks down the line, allowing larger groups to train together with social distancing still in place.

Only in Step 4 can competitive cricket be considered and in the Republic that is currently designated as July 20.

In the early stages, though, it may be cricket but now as we know it.

With hotels in Northern Ireland given that indicative date to open again, cricket clubs will hope that will be when clubhouses can reopen, but changing rooms may still be out of bounds and on the field players can only hope by that stage social distancing is reduced from the current two-metre rule to one-metre.

The ball is an obvious transmission medium and it is possible that all the fielding team apart from the bowler may have to wear gloves.

Until there is a confirmed resumption date, no fixture schedules can be ratified but at least next week players can finally enter the long dark tunnel.

Belfast Telegraph