Blackpool Cricket Club cancel Lancashire match and will play all games away until late June
Blackpool Cricket Club will not be hosting a Lancashire match this summer after all and the club will play its first 10 Northern Premier League matches of the season away from Stanley Park.
This is because of pitch drainage work being carried out at the club in the hope this will secure Blackpool’s status as a Lancashire outground for future years.
However, it means the Royal London One-Day Cup game between Lancashire and Worcestershire, scheduled for Stanley Park on August 8, will be switched to an alternative venue.
Blackpool chairman David Cresswell told The Gazette: “We have a new drainage system to county standard and hopefully the ground will be ready mid to late June. But we are erring on the side of caution.
“I’ve had a conversation with Paul Allott (Lancashire’s director of cricket) and we have to consider the possibility of everything not going to plan. It is disappointing but we can’t afford to keep that date and then have to tell Lancashire six weeks before that we have a problem.
“This should guarantee future Lancashire games at Blackpool for years to come. There is a new audit for outgrounds whereby you can’t host county games unless you reach those standards. We are also looking to renovate the changing rooms to county standards later this year.”
The first match of the 2021 season now scheduled for Stanley Park is the NPL derby against St Annes on June 26.
Blackpool’s opening 10 league games, starting with the season-opener at Fulwood and Broughton a week on Saturday, will all be away matches and the second XI will play home games at BAE Warton.
Cresswell added: “The league have been very co-operative in allowing us that flexibility.”
The season is set to begin with matches behind closed doors and with strict Covid-safety protocols in place, though the reopening of Stanley Park will hopefully coincide with the government’s planned end to all restrictions from June 21.
The Northern League and Palace Shield are still preparing for a prompt start on April 17, subject to any late changes in guidance from the ECB.
Cresswell said: “We are issuing test kits to everyone involved and the guidelines are a bit challenging.
“Supporters and parents will not be able to watch at first and the weather could be challenging too looking at the forecasts.
“But the players have had nets and we have a first XI warm-up game at Lowerhouse (Burnley) this Saturday.”
Blackpool’s Indian professional for 2021, Shivam Chauhan, is awaiting a travel visa at a particularly difficult time for international travel.