Wiltshire Cricket - The return of Talent Pathway Cricket - 2020 season

Message for Talent Pathway Players and Parents

Wiltshire Cricket is delighted to write to you with the great news that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has approved ECB’s request for the inclusion of boys’ and girls’ pathway cricket within the game’s recreational guidelines. This means that following the Government’s approval for ECB to move to step 4 of its roadmap for the return of recreational cricket we are now able to organise talent pathway matchplay for the remainder of this summer.

What will Talent Pathway Cricket look like this summer?

Over the past couple of weeks we have been working hard to put in place plans for the remainder of this season. This has involved collating coach and manager availability to run cricket across all of our squads this summer. Our thanks go out to the team of Wiltshire Cricket coaches and managers for the commitment they are showing in being prepared to run district and county teams for what is left of this summer.

From a Wiltshire Cricket point of view we clearly want to provide as much Cricket as possible with the window we have left this year. However, we do need to balance this against the need for us to continue to be prudent with such uncertainty surrounding our future funding in light of the impact of Covid-19. With that in mind, our plans for the different teams within our pathway need to be managed and be quite specific. The details of these plans are as follows:

  • Now until 31st July – District and County coaches have been given the green light to organise squad practices for their groups of players if they are able to, nothing though that:
    • There are no minimum or maximum expectations from Wiltshire Cricket regarding squad practices. In today’s climate we have to appreciate that talent pathway cricket is returning at short notice and therefore coaches will have different levels of availability to organise these sessions.
    • Any organised practice sessions will need to follow latest Government and ECB guidance relating to practice sessions. Most notably this means group sizes not exceeding 15 (including coaches)
  • 1st August onwards (utilising September if we can) – Matchplay programme to commence with the following aspirations for the different levels and teams in the pathway:
    • County Boys Under 10s – Intra county practice and matchplay programme
      • As pre Covid we hadn’t got to the point of selecting a final county boys under 10s squad, the plan this year will be to provide intra county opportunities for all of the under 10 players that were involved during the winter
    • County Girls Under 11s – Intra county practice and matchplay programme
      • As there were two separate county girls under 11s programmes this winter the plan this year will be for all girls within the under 11 group to receive intra county support
    • County Boys Under 11s – Under 18s and County Girls Under 13s – Under 17s – 4 separate match days to be organised
    • District Boys (Under 11s, 13s, 15s) Cricket – Up to 4 separate match day / practice sessions to be organised
      • These will likely be mid week, evening sessions/matchdays

For all Cricket this summer, certain things will look slightly different to normal as we operate within the ECB’s Return to Play guidance. For example, matches will include the necessary hygiene breaks, there will be no use of changing rooms and there will be no cricket teas provided. At a county level (where teas have always been provided) we will reflect this in a reduced match fee charge for this summer only.

Considerations and Caveats

Whilst the return of the talent pathway is a hugely positive news it is only right that we mention a few caveats and considerations that we would ask all players and parents to be aware of:

  1. Given we only have a small window left this summer the plans for each of the teams above are quite ambitious in the sense that we will need to find opposition and grounds for the Cricket we are trying to organise. Therefore, we would like to stress that the plans above are aspirational and would ask for your continued tolerance and understanding if some of our plans can’t be delivered
  2. Please be prepared for the fact that we may encounter challenges as we move through the remainder of the summer. In the current Covid-19 environment in which we are operating challenges can arise at short notice that could affect our ability to run Cricket. For example, a coach falls unwell, opposition fall unwell, host club have to pull out of hosting a match etc
  3. We will need all players to follow the Return to Play guidance to the letter. The guidance can be read here; https://www.wiltshirecricket.co.uk/news/2020-07-09/the-return-of-recreational-cricket-full-guidance.html. A particularly important point is the need for all players to check for their own symptoms before participating in any Cricket
  4. Clubs that host talent pathway activity for Wiltshire Cricket may have their own specific requirements of players and spetators that we would ask all players and parents to be respectful of.

Selection/trials for next year

Whilst it is great news that the talent pathway can return this summer it is important for me to highlight that we do not yet know what next winter’s coaching programme for county and district cricket is going to be able to look like. Due to the current climate that we are operating under it could be that we encounter reduced sports hall space, specific conditions for sports hall usage and possibly reduced coach availability. For all of these reasons it is possible that we will need to review the structure of our winter programme to fit within the conditions and restrictions under which we will need to operate.

For all of these reasons it makes planning for things such as trials and selection quite difficult as we do not yet know the programmes we will be offering. For this reason we think it is important to be transparent at this stage with players and parents in saying that the practice sessions and match play organised for the remainder of the 2020 summer will likely be used as part of the selection process for next winter’s programme. This is not to say that we will not also organise trials at some stage this autumn but by making it clear that we will use this summer’s activity as an indicator for selection it does mean that if we find ourselves unable to hold trials for whatever reason we at least know that players have had the opportunity to use the remaining cricket this summer as an opportunity to showcase themselves. Our age group coaches are aware of this potential situation and this will be considered by them carefully when it comes to structuring practice sessions, selecting teams and allocating specific roles with fixtures.

It remains our hope that we will be able to offer a comprehensive winter coaching programme but with such uncertainty surrounding what the winter will bring it was felt important to make reference to some of the challenges we may encounter within this message.

We very much hope this message will be received positively. There have been many moments during the course of this summer when we didn’t think we would play any Cricket all this year, so to be in the position that we are today is brilliant news.