Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions have welcomed recent statements for governments in both Northern Ireland and the Republic on the expected gradual return to action in 2021.
While we see a staged and safety-led progression of permitted activity allowed at club level, consistent with last year, governments and sports authorities in both jurisdictions have confirmed the first stage involves being the return-to-training of elite athletes.
- Operating under the same COVID-19 protocols as last year, the senior men’s and women’s international squads have started 1:1 and small group training.
- Elite domestic cricket – the men’s Inter-Provincial Series and women’s Super Series – will likely be approved to proceed as the first competitive cricket matches played.
- Club venues that host these elite matches will be able to prepare their grounds accordingly, but no spectators will initially be permitted at any of the matches.
Concurrently, it is anticipated that health authorities will gradually ease restrictions on club training – and the first announcement on this has been made in Northern Ireland last week.
Elaine Nolan, Participation Director at Cricket Ireland, said:
“Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions are here to help cricket clubs hit the ground running when the government gives respective green lights, and while we anticipate that government approvals on either side of the border will likely occur at a different pace, that doesn’t mean clubs can’t undertake a number of important tasks in order to be ready as soon as permitted.”
“The good news is that the hard work behind understanding how to run cricket during a pandemic was largely undertaken last year – we all have a much informed and collective sense of what is needed to keep our players, coaches and volunteers safe and healthy as we gradually restart our sport this time around.”
“We welcome the recent announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive that clubs based in the North can commence training sessions for groups of up to 15 people with mitigations in place from 12 April, but frustratingly for many, clubs based in the Republic will have to wait a little longer. We are hopeful that in the Republic that youth training will be permitted first – likely during April – with adult training following in May. However, we’ll wait for confirmation on this from Sport Ireland.”
“Clubs will still be required to operate under the Cricket Ireland COVID-19 protocols when a return to action is permitted, however, every government announcement will require time to understand its impacts upon the existing protocols, so we shall update and communicate them accordingly. There may need to be adjustments and tweaks as we go, but by now we are familiar with this scenario, so it shouldn’t lead to any surprises.”
“Our key message for clubs is that we will move as soon as health and sports authorities allow us, but you can help get cricket back quicker at your club by undertaking some basic steps.”
LET’S GET READY
Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions are encouraging all clubs - regardless of where they are based - to start getting ready for an eventual restart of activity now through a number of tasks that are required before the start of the activity. These tasks include:
- Review the checklists for preparing a cricket club for restarting activity including cleaning guides, and update the club’s COVID risk assessment, booking forms and contact tracing process. Updated protocols in-line with government guidance and advice regarding training practices that comply with social distancing and health protocols will be made available in the coming weeks.
- Identify your club safety officers. Information on Covid Safety Officer training will be circulated in due course.
Cricket Ireland and Provincial Unions will work closely with clubs in the coming weeks to ensure appropriate signage and sufficient PPE/Sanitisation stock is available to clubs for restart.
Provincial Unions have appointed COVID-19 Safety Support Officers who are assigned to clubs in their regions and will be supporting clubs back to activity. Your assigned Covid-19 Safety Support Officer will be in contact with you soon to help your club begin these steps.
Cricket Ireland will continue to work with Provincial Unions, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and health authorities on both sides of the border on the process for a safe return to sport.
CURRENT EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON AHEAD
Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions have additionally agreed to the following at this point:
- As neither governments are expected to give initial approval to longer formats, the club season in each Provincial Union will be structured to feature only T20 cricket during the first part of the season. Needless to say, we will look to introduce longer formats as soon as it is permitted by health authorities and this aspect will be kept under constant review.
- 'No decision will be made yet on holding the Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup and Clear Currency National Cup competitions. There is collective hope that these two competitions can still proceed subject to Governmental advice/guidance on the introduction of longer formats (and associated easing of travel restrictions).
- The Clear Currency All-Ireland T20 Cup is expected to proceed.
As we are all familiar with by now, circumstances are subject to change and we will endeavour to provide prompt updates as required.
CURRENT COVID-19 PROTOCOLS
All current protocols can be found at https://www.cricketireland.ie/covid-19