Bradford League clubs gear up for return to the cricket pitch
After the stop-start of last year cricket clubs have been given the green light to play in 2021 with the Gordon Rigg Bradford League set to have its first round of fixtures this Saturday.
With no championship possible in 2020 Woodlands finally begin the defence of their Premier Division title when they travel to play the team that finished runners-up to them in 2019, Townville.
More locally, 2017 champions Hanging Heaton will aim to be challengers this time and they open with an away game at Methley that will test their title credentials straight away.
Cleckheaton are also looking for a big season after a couple of indifferent campaigns. They have New Farnley away first up.
Batley have had to wait for their taste of the top flight after winning promotion and the Championship One crown in 2019. They begin at Wrenthorpe who narrowly avoided relegation in the last full season.
In Division One, newly promoted Birstall begin proceedings away to Lightcliffe while East Bierley are also on their travels, to Baildon, for their opening fixture.
Hartshead Moor have been given a home start when they take on Pudsey Congs in their Division One match.
Following relegation in 2019, Scholes start their bid to bounce straight back up as they open their Division Two campaign away to Buttershaw St Pauls.
In the same division, Spen Victoria entertain Wakefield St Michaels while Hopton Mills travel to play Hunslet Nelson.
After a disappointing last full campaign Liversedge will be aiming to make a good start to life in Division Three and they begin at home to an Adwalton side also relegated with them last time.
Crossbank Methodists have a home date with Crossflatts while Heckmondwike and Carlinghow start with a trip to Altofts in Division Three.
The Heavy Woollen Cup also gets under way with first round matches on Sunday and the prospect of a mouth watering tie straight off.
The draw has set up a heavyweight clash between the two most recent winners of the competition with Hanging Heaton, who lifted the trophy in 2018, at home to the holders Shepley.
Birstall have also been handed a tasty tie away to five-time winners of the competition Wrenthorpe.
The full first round draw is:
Cleckheaton v Scholes (HL); Shelley v Woodlands; Castleford v Kirkburton; Treeton v Buttershaw St Pauls; Elsecar v South Kirby Colliery; Hoylandswaine v Ossett; Barkisland v New Farnley; Wrenthorpe v Birstall; Barnsley Woolley Miners v Wickersley Old Village; Crossbank Methodists v Sandal; East Bierley v Wakefield Thornes; Hanging Heaton v Shepley; Townville v Methley; Gomersal bye; Skelmanthorpe v Farsley; Cawthorne bye.
The Priestley Cup, meanwhile, will begin with round one matches on Sunday, May 2. The final is scheduled for Sunday, August 29.
The Priestley Shield starts on May 23 with the final set to be on September 5.
It is intended to continue the Bradford League’s T20 competition with the finals on Sunday, July 25 and group games on Tuesday evenings.
Dates for the initial rounds are: Group A - May 25, June 8 and 22. Semi-finals July 6. Group B - June 1, 15 and 29. Semi-finals July 6.
To enable recreational cricket to be played, adapted playing conditions have been introduced and the ECB ACO has produced guidance for umpires and scorers.
It is the duty of the umpires to manage these new adapted playing conditions and guidance on operating them and any sanctions are also included. The full guidance is available on the Bradford League website.
The plan for organised cricket matches includes the following advice issued to all players and clubs:
Undergo a personal symptom check at home prior to matches. Stay home and do not take part if you demonstrate any covid-19 symptoms and are required to self isolate.
Use own equipment throughout where possible and clean your bat when leaving the field of play.
Players to remain socially distanced at all times (wicketkeepers and slip fielders at 1m+). Batsmen should remain socially distanced from the umpire and run on opposite sides of the pitch.
No sweat or saliva is to be applied to the ball at anytime. Hands and the ball should be cleaned at all breaks in play and every six overs.
Social distancing should be maintained during wicket celebrations and drinks breaks.
Keep a record of all those in attendance at each session, including contact details. This is to support NHS Test and Trace and is required by law.
Use of the clubhouse, changing rooms and toilets should adhere to the latest UK government advice.
No spectators are initially allowed, but this rule may be relaxed later if the government roadmap is followed.