Fylde coast cricket plans for full season starting next month... but obstacles must be overcome
The Fylde coast cricket season will hopefully start on time next month, with a full programme of league and cup fixtures scheduled.
However, Blackpool Cricket Club chairman Dave Cresswell points out that numerous obstacles are yet to be overcome before the first deliveries can be bowled.
The Northern Premier League and Moore and Smalley Palace Shield campaigns are set to begin on April 17, with the Liverpool and District Competition, which includes Lytham CC, starting a week later.
It follows the England and Wales Cricket Board’s publication of its ‘return to play in England roadmap’, which allows outdoor coaching and games to begin from Monday in line with government guidance.
The next key date is April 12, from when grounds and facilities can open for outdoor cricket, with up to 30 spectators allowed and outdoor refreshments available.
This is all dependent on the government’s own roadmap for the easing of restrictions remaining on course and the ECB states that decisions on the above will be taken on April 5.
Should the season begin as planned, Fleetwood will stage the Fylde coast’s first NPL game since 2019 on April 17, when they face Longridge. Blackpool visit Fulwood and Broughton on that date, while St Annes head to Morecambe.
The Palace Shield campaign is due to begin on the same date, with a premier division derby between Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham. Other top-flight fixtures that day include Croston v South Shore, Great Eccleston v Penrith and Penwortham v Thornton Cleveleys.
Lytham are set to start their L&DCC first division season at home to St Helens Town on April 24 following relegation from the premier league in 2019.
The Palace Shield and Liverpool Competition have issued statements confirming their intention to start on the agreed dates, though Blackpool chairman Cresswell added a note of caution.
He told The Gazette: “Certainly the intention is there but there are a number of challenges to overcome and practical decisions still to be made before we can start.
“We are still waiting on the fine detail, such as travel arrangement and how far teams can travel for games.
“What facilities do you put on for what would initially be a maximum of 30 spectators and how do you manage that?
“We need that level of detail pretty quickly because we aren’t supposed to be working on our grounds until next Monday and then we have less than three weeks before the season is supposed to start.
“We are hopeful the ECB and government can come to some agreements quickly but the most important thing is everybody’s safety.”
Cup competitions are also scheduled and the NPL’s Fylde coast trio have all received first-round byes in their 40-over competition.
Fleetwood welcome Blackpool in the quarter-finals on Sunday, May 2, when St Annes host either Longridge or Lancaster.
The semi-finals are set for May 30 or 31 and the final for July 25.
All Fylde coast clubs are set to enter a Twenty20 competition this season.
A change of format for the NPL’s T20 will see the Fylde coast clubs in different groups.
St Annes takes on Chorley, Garstang, Lancaster, Leyland and Netherfield in group one, while Blackpool and Fleetwood join Fulwood & Broughton, Kendal, Long ridge and Morecambe in group two.
Group games take place over four matchdays starting June 20 (each team will play twice on one of the matchdays), with finals day on September 5.
The Palace Shield’s T20 competition will operate on a localised round-robin basis, while all Liverpool Competition clubs will enter the T20 tournament appropriate to their level.
According to the roadmap, indoor cricket can resume for under-18 on April 12 and for adults on May 17, when indoor hospitality can also return.
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