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Northern Cricket Union's restructuring plans are put on hold

 

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The proposal which was sent to the 32 clubs - all but four, in Sections Two and Three, responded - was for a 12-team Premier League and Section One but initial feedback, particularly from the top eight teams, was that 10 teams would be preferable, so not to dilute the quality (stock photo)

The proposal which was sent to the 32 clubs - all but four, in Sections Two and Three, responded - was for a 12-team Premier League and Section One but initial feedback, particularly from the top eight teams, was that 10 teams would be preferable, so not to dilute the quality (stock photo)

The proposal which was sent to the 32 clubs - all but four, in Sections Two and Three, responded - was for a 12-team Premier League and Section One but initial feedback, particularly from the top eight teams, was that 10 teams would be preferable, so not to dilute the quality (stock photo)

There will be no changes to the league structure of the Northern Cricket Union next season.

While the "overwhelming response" from the clubs was for change to the current eight-team Premier League and Section One, the proposals will not take effect until 2022 because there will be at best a truncated season this year.

A statement after the NCU's board meeting this week said: "The board has now asked the Domestic Directorate to review proposals for change to be tabled at this year's AGM, for implementation in the 2022 season."

The proposal which was sent to the 32 clubs - all but four, in Sections Two and Three, responded - was for a 12-team Premier League and Section One but initial feedback, particularly from the top eight teams, was that 10 teams would be preferable, so not to dilute the quality.

The board also confirmed that the suspension of all cricket activity, currently until May 28, will be in place "until we receive clarity from Sport NI and the Northern Ireland Executive".

There were no dates in the Executive's five-stage roadmap to ease the lockdown this week with the earliest some cricket activity - training in small groups - can resume being at Step Two, then larger groups at Step Three. It remains to be seen whether matches will resume at Step Four.

The priority for the board is to address the tricky balance between the public health requirements which must be met to allow for the protection of everyone involved and the desire to have meaningful cricket without onerous conditions.

The NCU will follow Cricket Ireland which has taken the lead in the development of a back to training/playing protocol, although Sport NI will play an important role as it is developing a "sports sector framework for recovery and specific plans for resumption of sport" here.

The board's statement concluded: "Our priority is to support our clubs to deliver elements of outdoor cricket in a responsible way that does not compromise safety."

Privately, though, no one expects meaningful cricket for another two months at least.

Belfast Telegraph