Blackpool CC get set to hit the road in the early part of the cricket season

Blackpool CC chairman David Cresswell is looking forward to cricket’s return tomorrow – even if he believes the season is starting too soon.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:45 pm

The opening day of the Northern Premier Cricket League campaign sees Blackpool travel to Fulwood and Broughton.

It comes only a little more than two-and-a-half weeks after clubs were allowed to start training.

Given that lack of build-up and some grey areas in the roadmap out of lockdown, Cresswell has questioned the need to begin so promptly.

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He said: “I think we would have perhaps been better off delaying it until the start of May but the majority of clubs wanted to start before then.

“The weather in September, certainly over the last few years, has been better than in April, especially with how cold it’s been lately.

“The rule on spectators is also ambiguous. You can have hospitality people at the venue but you can’t have spectators.

“It’s a challenge for clubs early in the season but, if we had left it a couple of weeks, I’m sure things would have been resolved in a different way.”

At least Blackpool can wait for the rules to become clearer, given they play their first 10 matches of the season away from home as a result of pitch drainage work.

Nevertheless, tomorrow brings their first NPCL fixture since finishing third in the 2019 season.

The pandemic meant a shortened campaign last year with a one-off competition for NPCL and Palace Shield sides, ultimately won by Blackpool.

They go into this season on the back of little preparation, though all clubs are in the same boat and some early surprises are anticipated.

“The lads have been down at the nets as often as they can,” Cresswell said.

“We aren’t back at full strength for the first game but we certainly are with the players who have indicated their willingness to play this year.

“There’s a lack of preparation for everyone this year.

“We haven’t had an indoor sports centre to go training in the way we would normally do in January, February and March, so people are going to be rusty.

“There has also been a lack of friendlies – we’ve only had one – so nobody has been out in the middle to get any adequate practice or game experience, so I think it’s going to be a learning curve early on.”

Saturday will also see clubs pay their respects to Prince Philip, whose funeral takes place that afternoon.

The nine LV= County Championship matches will pause between 2.50pm and 4.10pm to avoid clashing with the funeral.

Recreational clubs had also been asked by the England and Wales Cricket Board to halt play between 3pm and 4pm in order to pay their respects, alongside observing the minute’s silence at 3pm.

That won’t be the plan for the Northern League sides given the lack of indoor facilities available to players at this stage on the route out of lockdown, as opposed to their professional counterparts.

Cresswell explained: “We were advised earlier in the week we should stop playing from 3pm to 4pm and the players would go back to their cars for an hour.

“Now, it’s going to be a minute’s silence at 3pm. Whoever made the original decision has done it on the back of county cricket, where they can go into a bubbled clubhouse with televisions to watch it.

“It just doesn’t make sense to sit in a car for an hour. We all sympathise and we will show our respects.”

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