Wiltshire Cricket Talent Pathway Update - Looking ahead to the 2021 summer

The Government Roadmap and what it means for Cricket

On Monday 22nd February, the Government released its roadmap for moving out of the current lockdown. Indicatively this guidance suggested that outdoor cricket would be able to return from 29th March. However, it is important to note that the Government’s announcements were made at a very headline level and so there is now an important process taking place behind the scenes to get Government approval of ECB’s Outdoor Recreational Cricket guidance for the 2021 summer. This guidance will make clear exactly how and when different elements of cricket will be able to return. At this stage, we are still waiting on this guidance but we are expecting it to be released imminently.

In the meantime though there are certain decisions we can take, namely around the winter coaching programme which you will be able to read about below. Collectively we can also all look forward to the summer with a few important thoughts in mind:

  1. We can now plan with some confidence that we will enjoy a full recreational cricket season. Therefore, Wiltshire Cricket is now working with all of our stakeholders to mobilise the game at all levels for the 2021 summer
  2. Cricket has a huge opportunity this summer to capitalise on the interest of both existing players/volunteers, but also a new audience who may be looking for things to do following months of lockdown. The sport should therefore look forward with ambition and excitement as to what this summer could bring
  3. Recreational Cricket demonstrated last summer that it could operate safely and in a compliant manner. This has been incredibly important in terms of the ongoing relationship between ECB, Government and the wider public, but will once again be of the utmost importance if we are to enhance our reputation as a game. There will be a lot of scrutiny on every industry as things open up and so it will be essential that Cricket operates responsibly once again.
  4. On the subject of compliance, the ECB’s Government approved guidance will focus on both the on field restrictions (similar to last season) but importantly guidance around behaviour and compliance off the field (changing rooms, spectators, social distancing etc)

Winter Coaching Programme

One thing that was made clear within the Government’s roadmap was that the earliest point from which indoor junior activity could be permitted is 12th April 2021 (beginning of Step 2 of Government roadmap). Therefore, with this being essentially the start of the outdoor season, and with no guarantee that indoor facilities would open anyway, we have made the decision to officially confirm the cancellation of the whole indoor winter coaching programme.

It is of course very disappointing that this decision has had to be made. However, it does mean we can now fully shift our attention towards maximising the summer outdoor playing season. This leads on to the next section below:

The 2021 Outdoor Playing Season

We were hoping that within this message we would be able to confirm the exact details of our summer talent pathway programme. Hopefully though you can appreciate that until we receive the Government approved, ECB Outdoor Recreational Cricket guidance, we are not able to do this. However, this does not mean that extensive planning has not been taking place with regards what the summer talent pathway programme will look like. With that in mind we can confirm that subject to the details of the ECB’s outdoor guidance we will be looking to offer a phased talent pathway summer as follows:

Phase 1 – Outdoor Practice phase of the season:

  • This will be a formalised practice programme, likely consisting of 2 x practice days, on allocated Sundays between the period of mid April to end of May
    • We are currently sourcing venues to host these sessions
    • We would love to be able offer more than 2 x sessions but with so much club cricket being played it is not an easy task to find grounds to host these sessions and we are also conscious of not taking players away from their junior club cricket
    • We will retain a small amount of your payment for the winter coaching programme to cover the costs of these outdoor practice sessions. However, for all hours not received you will receive a refund to cover those hours (e.g. your winter coaching programme would have consisted of 24 hours. If, for example, your 2 x outdoor practice sessions = 8 hours of contact time we will then refund you for the cost of 16 hours from your winter coaching programme payment)
    • The specific amount of outdoor practice contact time that each age group receives may differ from one age group to the next, depending slightly on how much venue space we acquire etc. However, as mentioned above, the payment for these sessions will be dealt with fairly with refunds given for the amount of contact time you do not receive

Phase 2 – Intra county Matchplay phase of the season:

  • In recognition of the lost contact time this winter, and also the fact that at some age groups players will either be; a) new to the pathway, or, b) working with a new coach for the first time, you will likely see an increased focus on intra county matchplay days and these will follow the formalised practice sessions detailed above
  • The exact number of intra county match days will differ per age group, depending on the needs of that specific age group.

Phase 3 – Matchplay phase of the season:

  • Starting at the earliest from w/c 31st May (half term week) our normal programme of fixtures for all age groups will commence
  • We will be doing our very best to avoid fixtures on school days, for obvious reasons this year, and therefore matches will either be on Sundays or mid week during school holidays
  • We are currently confirming opposition and venues for all talent pathway age groups, and you can keep abreast of latest fixtures for your age groups by visiting https://www.wiltshire-ccc.co.uk/

Next Steps:

We hope the above information has given you an appropriate update on what is happening behind the scenes and an outline look at what this season entails.

The next communication from Wiltshire Cricket will follow the release of ECB’s Outdoor playing guidance for the 2021 season. Once this has been released you will receive a communication confirming:

  • Details of your practice sessions and finance arrangements
  • More information about matchplay arrangements for the summer
  • Other information (talent pathway playing shirts, finance arrangements for matchplay, CAG festivals)

In the meantime though, thanks once again for your patience over the past few weeks and months.