Clubs gear up for return to the cricket pitch this weekend
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 and Pontefract 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 in the Bradford League when they travel to play the team that finished runners-up to them in 2019, Townville.
Also in the Premier, Methley have been given a likely tough test for their opener as they host 2017 champions Hanging Heaton.
Great Preston were unlucky to narrowly miss out on promotion in the last full season after losing only one game and start as one of the favourites to do well in Division Three. They open with a home game against Brighouse.
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 local rivals Townville and Methley, which will be played at the former’s Poplar Avenue ground.
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.
The Pontefract League is another to get under way on Saturday with Hemsworth MW, Streethouse, Frickley Colliery, Hundhill Hall and Ackworth set to do battle for the championship in a 12-team top division.
Division Two includes Kippax, who have switched from the Wetherby League. They will compete against local sides Glasshoughton, Knottingley Town, Whitley Bridge and Streethouse seconds,
Featherstone Town will compete in Division Three along with Ackworth seconds, while Division Four includes Allerton Bywater, Ferrybridge Power Station, South Kirkby seconds and Hemsworth MW seconds.
Castleford do not open their season in the Yorkshire Premier League North until Saturday week, when they are away to Harrogate. But they play their first game in the Heavy Woollen Cup at home to Kirkburton on Sunday.
Castleford seconds also start on April 24 when they host Yapham after earning promotion to Ebor Division Two in the York Senior League.
Ledsham also now find themselves in the York League and will begin their Ebor Division Two campaign at home to Church Fenton on Saturday week.
In the meantime, they are playing a friendly away at Thorp Arch & Boston Spa this Saturday while the second team, who will play in York Ebor Division Four, hosts South Milford seconds in a warm-up.
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.