NW consider return to cricket options
The North West Cricket Union looks likely to take its first small steps back towards a return to playing next week as the NI Assembly's exit out of lockdown reaches Stage 2 on Monday.
The changes are only minimal to start with; one-to-one training the only activity available under the new guidelines in the coming weeks.
It is a start however and it formed the backdrop this week as the Union met representatives from all its clubs on 'Zoom' conference calls.
The meetings were designed to give all clubs an idea, firstly of what the requirements will look like during those initial training sessions and secondly, what responsibilities each club will have as they further negotiate their way out of lockdown.
Delegates heard NWCU General Manager Peter McCartney confirm that next week's step will be followed later in the month by Phase 3, which will see larger groups able to train together albeit with social distancing still in place.
The final stage (Step 4) would then hopefully see competitive cricket returning around 25 July although that would be dependant on a successful transition from the earlier phases.
It also appears that the format of those competitive matches were likely to be T20 at best, making it very difficult to facilitate the regular league and cup seasons.
The NWCU appear very keen to ensure that whatever cricket is played this summer is pitched to facilitate all groups- senior, Qualifying, women's and youth teams.
Whilst no firm decisions have been made as yet on the make-up of competitive senior cricket, the majority of clubs are believed to be in favour of a stand-alone T20 competition as opposed to say a 'watered down' version of the senior cup.
There are likely to be other hurdles such as travel, closed clubhouses and changing rooms and insurance policies to be factored into discussions further down the line.
As with every other sport there are currently a lot more questions than answers. What does look fairly certain however is that with a maximum of seven weeks potentially available for play later in the summer, this will be far from a regular season.
For now though it is clearly a case of any cricket being better than none for the majority of sides.