Yorkshire CCC captain Steve Patterson issues warning of player welfare

YORKSHIRE captain Steve Patterson is warning that sportsmen and women should not be rushed back into action too soon when the action begins after the coronavirus lockdown, fearing it could lead to a spate of injuries.

Captain Steve Patterson: Strong warning. Picture: SWPix

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Sport is in abeyance with much of the country under quasi house arrest with no prospect of the cricket season starting in the foreseeable future.

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When sport eventually does get going there will inevitably be a desire by administrators to cram in as much of it as possible to mitigate heavy financial losses.

Playing in tandem?: David Willey. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

But if cricket gets the green light before the end of the summer, Patterson believes it would be folly to force players back into action without the necessary training/preparation.

“I think the challenge for all sports is that if these rules and regulations are relaxed, there’s going to be a mad rush to get everybody out there,” he said.

“In all sports, not just cricket, there needs to be a period of time for players to prepare because there’s going to be matches left, right and centre and you’ve got to be conditioned for that.

“If you’re not careful, and if we just say, ‘Right, next week we’re going again’, and players haven’t had the proper build-up, then I can see there being a huge amount of injuries because players are not conditioned to perform. It’s something that needs to be taken into account.”

With the England and Wales Cricket Board estimating that an entire summer without cricket would cost the professional game in this country upwards of £300m, it is unlikely that administrators will be all-ears on this subject.

Among the potential models for a shortened season being presently discussed are reportedly a glut of County Championship games that would see cricket played on six days a week, perhaps running alongside the T20 Blast – David Willey leading Yorkshire’s one-day team. Counties might even have to field two separate squads depending on how any schedule might look, with everything clearly up in the air.

But an onerous schedule would place obvious demands on players such as Patterson, 36, who have played no competitive cricket since last September.

“All you can do is try and stay as fit as possible so that you have a better chance when we do start back,” he said. “At the moment, the difficulty for everybody is not knowing what’s going to happen.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be the same again for a long time; even when they open things up again, they’re not going to suddenly allow 50,000 people to go and sit in a football stadium together, for example. You’d think there may be some level of playing behind closed doors initially, but who knows.”

Patterson and his Yorkshire team-mates have been training at home since their pre-season tour to India was cut short last month due to the pandemic.

The club is discussing the possibility of furloughing players having already taken advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by furloughing most of its non-playing staff.

“The lads are coping okay and we’re all doing our training at home and trying to stay fit,” added Patterson. “We’re slightly more fortunate than sports like rugby, for example, and the Leeds Rhinos lads. They’re big, strong lads who are lifting heavy weights all the time and they need to be big and muscular for the sport that they play.

“So, in that sense, the equipment is probably more of an issue to those boys than it is to cricketers, but it’s still difficult because you are limited to what you can do without gym equipment.

“All you can really do is go out for a run, go on a bike ride, and do some exercises at home. It makes you realise how fortunate we are with the facilities and equipment that we normally get access to.

“The fitness coaches have made programmes for us all and given us exercises to do, but it’s obviously not the same as it would be if we were in the gym.”

Patterson believes that the lack of sport now only makes players and spectators appreciate it more. “It makes you appreciate how fortunate we are to do something that we love,” he added. “The public need sport, something to keep them sane and entertained. Although cricket is going to be hit hard financially as is every walk of life, people do need sport from a mental perspective and a quality of life perspective.”

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