If 2019 was an outstanding year for cricket, 2020 is a rude awakening.
We were due to start the season 2 days ago with the First XI making the journey to Port Sunlight and Second XI hosting Macclesfield. As it stands, nobody knows when we will actually take the field again.
What do we know?
The official line from the English Cricket Board is that all recreational cricket is suspended until further notice. There has been much conjecture about when this suspension will be lifted, but right now that’s all that it is.
With the government still maintaining ‘social distancing’ it’s impossible to predict what this will mean for organised competitive cricket. The leagues that we play in have a tough enough job organising games across a 22 week season – trying to organise a meaningful competition for a season of uncertain length and with an unknown start date is an impossibility. Reading through the ongoing updates it’s clear that everyone wants to get something done. We receive updates at least weekly from Cheshire Cricket Board and the ECB, and the UK Fast Cheshire Cricket League are also keeping us in touch with their plans.
Junior cricket has been hit particularly hard. The season gets going in early May and is pretty much done by mid July as everyone goes away for their summer holidays. That said, every other club that I’ve spoken to is desperate to make something of the summer, so I think we can be sure that if there’s a chance to play there will be no shortage of clubs looking for fixtures.
What’s the impact on the club?
This crisis is having a massive impact on all organisations, a cricket club is no different. Thankfully, our reliance on volunteers takes some of the pressure off. We may all be climbing the walls at home but we’re not having to find cash for salaries or navigate the ‘furlough’ scheme.
Due to social distancing, we can’t get on the ground. Thankfully, one significant volunteer can. Stan has been keeping himself busy and as the header image and those below show, the ground is in tip-top condition.
Preparing the square and outfield pre-season costs us. Keeping the outfield and square in condition costs us. We also have rates bills, utility bills, insurance, etc to cover. As a Management Committee we did an exercise on calculating the impact and actually we’ll still incur 75% of the annual costs even if we lose half of the season.
Roughly half of our income is comes from annual subs and match-fees. 60% of this goes to covering match-day expenses (balls, teas, etc).
In short, it’s going to cost us money. If we don’t start playing until mid-July the deficit could be over £6,000 – and every week we don’t play that goes up.
There are some schemes available to us and I’ve submitted applications for grant aid locally and nationally in the last 10 days to two funds that have been put in place to help organisations like ours. I feel we have a strong case and if either of these comes off we’ll be in a great position, so please keep your fingers crossed.
What have we been up to off the field?
The Committee were unanimous in agreeing that a focus on improving our facilities should be our priority this year. We put a small project group together to look at what could be done to improve the pavilion within our means before the start of the season.
I think we all agreed that a refurbishment was long overdue, so we have had it cleaned up, fixed up and decorated in pre-season. Massive thanks to Sarah for putting in the elbow-grease and steam-power in the clean-up and to long-time member and friend of the club Phil Wood for doing the fixing-up.
The pictures below show how good it looks, and it’s ready for us all to come back to.
It’s also going to give us some time to get other things done. I’m hoping we move from chasing down the lease to some important developments that will lead to an exciting future for the club. We can also devote some time to filling out this website and making it a hub for the club.
What can we do to help each other?
The social side of the club has always been something we’ve been proud of. This has continued even whilst we’re having to do it from a distance.
Social media has been a big help. On Facebook and Twitter we’ve had our own Pheonix from the Flames look back at matches from the past. We’ve also put TeamApp to good use to keep everybody up to date and in touch.
If you’re not already on TeamApp and would like to keep up to date, here are the links:
We have been able to coordinate support for members in isolation – and still can if required. An unexpected highlight being James Shaw doing Jonny Reeh’s week’s shopping and obtaining all branded goods within his allocated budget! This remains in place – with Jonny and James coordinating.
The virtual pub quiz has been a great initiative, with 25+ members interacting via online video conference each week. 8.05pm every Thursday has become a highlight in the calendar whilst we’re all stuck at home. Thank you James Shaw for putting in the time to pull it together.
What can we do to help the club?
Keep in touch, keep getting involved and keep looking out for each other.
There’s very little we can do right now other than support each other and look out for those who need help. Once the restrictions on getting together are lifted, then we’ll still have some jobs to do – and I’m sure we’ll be thankful of being able to get out of the house and get together to do them.
The financial impact won’t kill us, but it will hurt. But we’re all feeling it right now. Some people have paid annual subs and junior donations, others haven’t. Now is not the time to be chasing anybody – and once we have a clearer view as to what is happening we’ll let everybody know what we need.
Once we’re all able to then we’ve some ideas coming together for social events where we can enjoy ourselves and generate some much needed funds. I think we’ll all be ready to enjoy ourselves, so please give them your support.