Cricketers praised for response to pandemic

December 8, 2020

Cricketers in Suffolk have been praised for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rob Jones, Operations Manager of Suffolk Cricket Board, told Monday’s Suffolk County Cricket Association AGM, held via Zoom for the first time, that the response was not just from a playing perspective.

He said: “As soon as lockdown was announced I heard stories of cricket club members volunteering in their local community, fundraising for local and national good causes, which all seemed to put a different angle to the phrase ‘spirit of cricket’.”

He said that once the go-ahead was given for the season to make a belated start, the cricketing family once again stepped up to the mark, with preparations to get games played in COVID-safe environments.

“Then once the cricket started, I heard many instances of clubs actually having too many players, especially juniors, and subsequently looking for additional matches to play. “This, of course, was great to hear and I hope clubs have continued to keep in touch with all their players and reacted to how they’ll accommodate everyone in their respective teams.”

Suffolk Cricket Board Chairman Nick Shrubshall said: “A big thank you goes to everyone involved in Suffolk cricket this year in what has been a remarkable year.

“To get as much cricket in as we did was wonderful and there will be areas of discussion to take forward to next year.” He said the signs were promising that cricketers would be able to enjoy a full season in 2021.

Toby Pound, who is Secretary of both the Suffolk Cricket Board and Suffolk County Cricket Club, told the meeting that the 2020 season had promised to be an exciting one for Suffolk, with a new President, a new Chairman, a new white-ball captain, a new white-ball professional, a new organisation for non-first-class counties, the National Counties Cricket Association, a new challenge in the First Division of the NCCA Championship and the prospect of Suffolk hosting a first-class county, Kent Spitfires, for the first time since 2005.

He said: “None of us, at the start of 2020, would ever have predicted that the whole county season would be cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

“Shortly before the country went into lockdown in March, we sadly lost our President of only three months, Norman Atkins. I paid tribute at last year’s AGM to the enormous contribution Norman made to Suffolk cricket over more than 50 years.

“We thought that he was making a good recovery from heart surgery in the autumn of 2019 so it was a shock when he passed away so suddenly.

“Due to the lockdown and the subsequent restrictions, we have not yet been able to celebrate Norman’s achievements in a suitable way. I very much hope we will be able to do so during the 2021 season.

“Norman had very large shoes to fill as chairman but I am delighted with the way Andrew Squire has stepped up to the plate. He is totally committed, enthusiastic and fully involved, not just with the county club but with many other areas of Suffolk cricket.”

Pound said 2020 would have been the first season of competitions organised by the new National Counties (NCCA) structure, which looks and is very different from its predecessor, the Minor Counties Cricket Association.

“NCCA has a clear purpose: apart from organising the competitions, it will provide a well-defined pathway for younger players wishing to progress into first-class cricket.

“It is developing a distinct brand and will be reaching out to the new generation of cricketers via social media. Its governance structure will conform to the standards laid down by ECB as part of its recent county board governance review,” said Pound.

He added that on the subject of governance, for many years the county club and board in Suffolk have been closely aligned although the current structure is often misunderstood and difficult to explain.

He said: “We have been talking for some time about rationalising our structure and we will need to do so during 2021 in order to comply with the ECB governance standards.

“The challenge for us is that our Board is incorporated as a limited company whereas our county club is an unincorporated association with 300 or so individual club members.”

Despite the fact that the Suffolk team only took the field twice during the 2020 season, at Woolpit and Exning, he said it was good to see white-ball captain Jack Beaumont leading the players out and white-ball professional Neil Dexter bringing his experience and skill to the team.

“Behind the scenes, a lot of hard work was put in to prepare the team, both during the winter and after the lockdown ended in June and I should pay tribute to Andy Northcote and his fellow coaches for their enthusiasm and dedication.

“It was particularly pleasing to see a number of young and up-and-coming players taking part in the squad sessions and in the two matches actually played. This bodes well for the future of Suffolk cricket.

“As we approach the end of this dispiriting and chaotic year, it is good to report that ECB has confirmed that NCCA will be fully funded for next season’s programme and we are now busy arranging venues and fixture dates. Full details will be published in the near future.”

Pound paid tribute and thanked Neil and Frances Hammond for their continued help and support on the county and board finances while the search for a new treasurer was undertaken.

The meeting saw a new president, a new treasurer and two new life members elected. Former Suffolk opening batsman Tony Warrington was elected as president, filling the vacancy left by the death of Norman Atkins earlier this year.

Chris Reeve was appointed as the new treasurer to replace Neil Hammond, who has held the role since 2000. Hammond, along with Andy Broome, who has been the county’s scorer since 1985, were both elected as Honorary Life Members.

Election of offices was as follows:

  • President – Tony Warrington
  • SCCC Chairman – Andrew Squire
  • SCB Chairman – Nick Shrubshall
  • SCCC Hon. Secretary – Toby Pound
  • SCCC Hon. Treasurer – Chris Reeve
  • SCB/SCCC Welfare Officer – Graham Moss
  • Auditors: Ensors

Photograph caption Suffolk players are pictured above sanitising during the one-day match versus Cambridgeshire at Burwell & Exning CC

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