Cricket returns across West Norfolk
Last season’s Norfolk Alliance champions and runners-up have both reacted with joy to news that recreational cricket games are allowed to return after a long spell in the pavilion due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019 Alliance title winners North Runcton CC, who pipped Stow by 11 points last term, were like all West Norfolk clubs set to miss on bat and ball action this summer due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Recently the government had stated a cricket ball was a “vector for disease” so could not confirm a restart date.
However, after discussions with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, on Friday (July 3) the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stated: “We’re delighted the UK Government has given the green light for recreational cricket in England to return from Saturday 11 July.”
Current North Runcton CC chairman Peter Coote has been associated with the club since 1981.
The long-serving player said members have kept in touch via social media during lockdown: “Having won the Alliance Premier league for the first time in 30 years, we were really looking forward to this season.
“The delay has been very frustrating but we have managed to keep together via Zoom and WhatsApp with the ground staff doing a great job of keeping the ground in excellent shape.
“We have reacted to the ECB guidance at each step on the road to the return of game play.
“Initially, we could use one net for two people with certain protocols, then groups of six and last week we started Junior coaching with one coach to five players.
“Game play guidance is due today and we are hopeful of some 11-a-side games in the near future.
"All leagues have been cancelled for this season and any games will be seen as a bonus.
“There have been times when we thought that the season would be a complete blank, but I have always been optimistic.”
Stow senior player Will Denny remarked: “The effects of the pandemic are potentially extremely damaging to recreational cricket so, as a long serving player for Stow CC, I am grateful the ECB are finally allowing recreational cricket to start from July 11.
“The club are eagerly anticipating further information from the ECB and we are hoping to run an intra-club match this Saturday.
“We have already started our junior cricket coaching sessions on Saturday mornings and are wanting to provide as much opportunity for young cricketers from 7 through to 19 years of age.”
Stow have pencilled in the following Sunday fixtures during July, subject to change, after playing away at Grimston on Sunday; 19: home, Bircham; 26: away at Downham Town 2nd XI.
In a strong local finish to the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division last year, Fakenham ended up in third place with Downham occupying sixth position.