Local cricket may be taking to the pitch earlier than first thought with the Wangaratta and District Cricket Association (WDCA), in which the Yarrawonga Mulwala Cricket Club (YMCC) are affiliated, looking to start season 2020/21 in mid-October.
WDCA President Michael Hurley said the association was to be guided by the government in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as policies and regulations to be in place for the season to go ahead but the WDCA is hopeful of an October start.
“Everything regarding COVID restrictions and regulations is changing quickly so we have no one hundred per cent guarantees, but we will be guided by the government,” Mr Hurley said.
“We are still looking at a possible October start, but it may not be our traditional second week of October.
“Currently I am in contact with clubs for their return to training/ return to playing plans as this allows us to get a picture on when we would be able to start.
“Each club will need a pandemic players policy and each individual ground will also need a protocols plan in place to be able to go ahead.
“We have picked up a lot of regulations and the format will change considerably but we are hopeful and will be lucky to play after the year everyone has had.
“With reduced numbers being allowed to partake in outdoor exercise, we are currently unsure on the exact number that will be able to take to the field but we are hoping it won’t affect each team having their teams of 11 players.
“In regards to the end date of the season, we have been told that it will not continue any later than usual so we will be done in March.
“Yarrawonga Mulwala Cricket Club have been the most forward and have done terrific work on their plans.”
A series of match-day protocols at all levels of cricket will change significantly for the 2020-21 season with changes introduced by Cricket Australia to attempt to keep players as safe as they can during the season.
Cricket Victoria competitions manager Darren Anderson said cricket would look very different this season.
‘‘Everyone needs to understand this won’t be a normal cricket season and what we’re saying is that cricket in a pandemic will be a privilege,’’ Mr Anderson said.
‘‘The message we’re trying to put out is that cricket will be a lot different to what everyone is used to.
‘‘There are going to be some onerous tasks and jobs for volunteers, players and umpires that are going to have to be completed on a weekly basis, just so we can get out on the park and play a season of cricket.’’
A major change will be in how players can alter the condition of the ball, with traditional methods for bowlers such as using saliva or sweat to shine the ball now being banned.
Captains will be required to use a special wipe to clean the ball every few overs, as well as at the fall of wickets and at the end of sessions.
Among other measures, umpires will not be allowed to take the hat, sunglasses or jumper of the bowler, instead they will be placed in a designated place.
Equipment sharing will also be banned meaning the afternoon tea and drinks break will look different with no sharing of drink bottles.
The change rooms will also not be used however toilets will be open for use.
‘‘Gloves, pads, helmets, thigh guards, they’re all designed to absorb sweat and so the message is that there is to be no sharing between players, and no doubt that will cause a few issues, especially at the junior levels,’’ Mr Anderson said.
‘‘We’re working through with Cricket Australia and the respective government agencies to find out a bit more about that, but that’s what we’re putting out there, no equipment sharing.’’
With regional Victoria moving to step 3,
anyone above the age of 18 will still not be able to participate in contact community sport, unless Melbourne has reached the final stage, which is foreshadowed to be late November.
“This means no AFL, no netball, no basketball… basically any sport that involves physical contact will be off limits for adults living in regional Victoria,” Chair of Regional Sport Victoria Felicity Williams said.