Bradford League clubs backed to bounce back from coronavirus lockdown

BRADFORD Cricket League president Keith Moss is confident that the historic competition will withstand the current crisis but fears that smaller clubs may not be so fortunate depending on the length of the lockdown.

ON HOLD: Wrenthorpe's Khalil Khan cuts through square for on his way to 55 against Bradford and Bingley, to ensure his team stayed up in Bradford League Premier Division on the last day of the 2019 season. Picture: Steve Riding.

“I talk with my colleagues frequently and, at the moment, there are no alarm bells ringing from a Bradford League point of view,” said Moss, the former Yorkshire CCC chairman.

“We may have to change our tune if this thing was to drag on forever and a day; then it would be a different cup of tea potentially.

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“But, as things stand, I’ve had no comment from anyone at all that they are in difficulty.

Action from Wrenthorpe v Methley in the Bradford League Championship in August last year, Jared Warner bowling for Methley. Picture: Steve Riding.

“Of course, for some of the smaller clubs in various other places, I suppose it’s inevitable that one or two of them will find the task too great and that they could go to the wall, although I hope to goodness that I’m wrong.”

Recreational cricket in England and Wales has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic at a time when most clubs would have been preparing for their season.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board has provided a lifeline through a £20m rescue package for the recreational sport which forms part of a £61m bailout programme that is helping the 18 first-class counties too.

Moss welcomes the ECB support, saying: “It will be a godsend for many league clubs. Overheads still continue; there’s no club with any bar sales, subscriptions, etc, so it’s an awkward time.

Bradford Cricket League president Keith Moss presents the Premier Division trophy to Woodlands captain Pieter Swanepoel back in 2009.

“Now’s the time when subscriptions come in and that’s not happening, so any help we’re getting is more than appreciated.

“The ECB have a duty to support the league clubs and they’re doing that. Indeed, one must say that without that support we’d all be in trouble.”

The Bradford League is fortunate compared to some of its lesser brethren.

“Everything’s relative,” said Moss. “The overheads of running Pudsey St Lawrence are totally different to running a small club, say, up the Nidd Valley.

“We’re concerned about some of the smaller league clubs, of course, but there’s some first-class counties who’ll be struggling a bit too. Big time.”

There is no reason, of course, why cricket clubs should be different to any other organisation/business at the present time. Many, if not all, are struggling to some extent or other and waiting on the government’s next move in the ongoing fight against Covid-19.

It is clearly a worrying situation for cricket at all levels, especially if the knock-on effect is a lost season.But Moss is still clinging to the hope that we will get some play.

“My personal view is that we’re going to be looking towards July if we do get started,” he said.

“I think that league clubs have been very sensible about things; they’ve battened down the hatches, done what they have to do, and now we’re getting this support from the ECB.

“But, of course, you still lose revenue, you still lose people’s interest, and it’s going to take time to bring the whole thing back. The acid test is how long this lockdown continues.”

Despite the prevailing uncertainty, Moss is optimistic for the future of league cricket.

“Obviously the situation could change and things could get worse,” he added. “But there is also a spirit of optimism.

“I hope that the spirit of survival continues and that we can all come out fit and well when the great day comes and we can start up again.”

As a key figure on the Yorkshire cricket scene for many years, and the proudest of Yorkshiremen too, Moss has great confidence that clubs will rise to the challenge.

“Cricket people, particularly here in Yorkshire, are a resolute lot,” he added. “I’ve got great faith in the cricketing family – you’ve got to have faith anyway when you’re involved in club cricket.

“We’ve all, in league cricket down the years, had many things to fight to keep the game going; money’s been tight, and there’s always lots of battles to fight along the way, although not as bad as this one, I have to say.

“However, we’re going to fight this one, you can be sure of that.

“It’s so sad because this is normally the most marvellous time of the year. It makes me weep because for all the years I’ve been involved in the game, I’ve always loved the first couple of weeks of the season especially.

“You’ve got the long winter months behind you, players have got their whites on again, wickets have been prepared, the fields look pristine and there’s everything to play for. There’s no cricket at the moment – but the game will be back.”

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