DENTON St Lawrence will have to wait before launching their defence of the Greater Manchester Cricket League (GMCL) title after the season was delayed.Action was meant to begin on April 18 but in the light of events, it will now not commence until at least the end of May.
When, or if, the campaign does get underway, there will be no promotion or relegation and an alternative competition is currently being drawn up.
Excitement was starting to build ahead of the beginning of the new campaign, especially at St Lawrence, who won the premier division title and the Derek Kay Cup.
However, the GMCL postponed the start of the season after government advice.
It said: “We still believe we are unlikely to restart before the end of May although we hope for the best.
“To reach this decision, the board carried out impact and threat assessments and identified mitigation of risks where possible.
“We are still hugely disappointed that it had to come to this but your messages of support through mail, text, Twitter and phone calls suggests we were not too wide of the mark.
“Not withstanding the impact that this epidemic is having on our families, your families and all our friends, teammates and work colleagues we know we must work harder than ever on your behalf.
“There are some big challenges ahead for us all. We have already set down some changes we have made and proposals to reduce expenses for us all and we will continue to do more and pare down or defer costs wherever we can.
“Another angle we are currently looking at is alternatives to this year’s presentation dinner to bring events directly to your clubs and bars.
“When, or if, the season gets underway at some point we will find an alternative meaningful competition offering clubs that can and wish to play the opportunity to do so with no penalty to those that are unable to play.
“This meaningful competition for whatever time we have available and any restrictions that maybe in place, would influence the type of competition we offer.
“This decision will result in the 2021 league season beginning with everyone in the same division as they were due to start in for 2020. The league will consider what action to take in the event it accepts any new clubs from season 2021.
“We are hugely disappointed that it has come to this but this once in a lifetime event has hit sport across the globe and we unanimously believe we are doing the right thing to help battle this life-threatening virus.”
The shutdown around the world is likely to effect flights carrying overseas professionals, including St Lawrence’s South African Neil Hornbuckle and Denton CC’s new pro, Sri Lankan Asantha Singappuli, an all-rounder who bowls left arm spin.
He was not expected in the country until the eve of the season but with various travel restrictions being put in place, it would have been virtually impossible for him to get here had the season started on time.
It is not just in the GMCL – which also includes Denton West – where the effects have been felt.
Newton CC, whose third team plays in the competition, received a similar decision from the Derbyshire and Cheshire Cricket League.
They were hoping to make an impact after being promoted back to division one, which was scheduled to start on Saturday April 25 with a home fixture against Hayfield.
And despite the delay, chairman Keith Johnston still hopes to have a successful 2020.
He said: “Our first team back in the top division of the DCCL after a few years away and we are confident our young team under the leadership of Lee Turner will have a great year.
“We have a couple of returning members who tried their luck at a higher level but found the pull of our homely club irresistible.
“We have also managed to recruit some more quality additions but we are still on the lookout for cricketers of all levels for our three senior teams and three junior teams.
“We urge anyone who is interested to go to our website newtoncc.co.uk and contact anyone of the officials detailed there.
“We are an ambitious club but the emphasis is on building a strong relationship with our local community while playing good cricket and more importantly having fun while doing it.”