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Coming back: NCU cricket

Coming back: NCU cricket

PMAKER

Coming back: NCU cricket

The NCU are convinced that cricket will get under way next month and have plans to start the season a week earlier than scheduled.

With lockdown restrictions easing quicker than expected, the Domestic Directorate met last night to approve a start date of Saturday, July 18 for the Premier League and Section One.

Following last night's meeting, clubs will be told that the league competition will be played over 20 overs with the fixtures as per the original schedule, as the new starting date coincides with the second half of the programme.

All the major clubs have been approved for a Return to Training and, assuming the Return to Play protocols are accepted by Sport NI, it will be all systems go for action in just 18 days' time.

At the moment, changing rooms at grounds will remain closed but the bars in clubhouses should be open, while on the field 'normal cricket' should be played.

If the schedule is unchanged, the opening games in the Premier League will be champions CIYMS v Civil Service North, Instonians v Waringstown, Lisburn v promoted Woodvale and North Down v Carrickfergus.

The North West are also hoping to start on July 18 but fixtures will have to be rearranged because clubs have agreed to regionalise their T20 competition to cut down on travel.

The 15 senior teams will be split into four groups and Group One will have only three teams, but will play each other three times instead of twice. The teams in this group are Ballyspallen, Coleraine and Eglinton.

Group Two will be Brigade, Glendermott, Newbuildings and St Johnston; Group Three features Bready, Burndennett, Fox Lodge and Strabane; with Group Four consisting of Ardmore, Bonds Glen, Donemana and Killyclooney. These teams will play each other home and away.

Matches will be at 2pm on Saturdays, although there could be a season opener on Friday, July 17.

Belfast Telegraph