Club cricket still emerging from the Covid hangover
- Credit: Dave Thomas
Club cricket in Devon is still recovering from the effects of the Covid pandemic, and county CEO Nigel Mountford says it may take at least another season before it's fully back on its feet again.
The 2022 Devon League campaign has begun with optimism and good weather, but Mountford believes that much has changed over the last two virus-affected years and he stresses: "There's still a hangover from everything that the game has been through."
The 2020 season was limited to six weeks at the end of that summer, and pavilion restrictions covering changing-rooms and even teas have continued through 2021, and some even now.
The League had to introduce a new system last year, calculating positions on points-per-game average because so many matches were called off.
Those rules have returned to normal, and the start of each season is greeted eagerly.
But former Bovey Tracey chairman Mountford, who played for Torquay, Bovey and Devon in a long career as a wicketkeeper-batsman, says: "We will hopefully get back to where we were, but it might take a little while.
"I'm a bit 'old school' when it comes to teas, for instance - for me, they're part of cricket, always have been and always will be.
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"But not all clubs are doing them at the moment, so that's one knock-on effect of Covid.
"At the moment, not every team is up to full strength, because people are involved in other things and other sports.
"That happens every year to an extent, but people's lifestyles, especially for youngsters, have also changed.
"We used to set almost a whole day aside for a cricket match, but younger players don't want to stay on after games so much now.
"The big plus is the number of kids coming along to colts sessions - that's very encouraging from a playing point of view, and also financially if clubs take advantage of it.
"But the most important thing is to keep those boys and girls playing through their teenage years and beyond - that doesn't always happen and we have to find ways to do it."