Exmouth CC - A chat with the chairman ahead of what should have been a big weekend for the Maer men
PUBLISHED: 08:38 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:38 30 April 2020
Exmouth CC ought to have been preparing three senior XIs ahead of launching a new Tolchards Devon Cricket League campaign this Saturday (May 2).
However, the advent of the Coronavirus means that we are unlikely to see cricket in shape or form for the foreseeable future.
Indeed, only last week the English Cricket Board (ECB) issued a statement that advised there would, be no cricket in England until July 1, at the earliest.
That date does offer some hope on a local level, as the following Saturday, July 4, would mark the start of the second half of the 2020 league schedule, though even that must be considered a little unlikely given the daily government briefings which continue to suggest that social distancing will play a part in our lives for, quite possibly, the rest of this year.
This Saturday (May 2), Exmouth 1st XI would have been in Premier Division derby action at Sidmouth; the Maer men’s 2nd XI would have been entertaining Whimple 1st XI and Exmouth III would have been in action at Fention IIs.
We caught up with Exmouth chairman Mark Davies to ask for his thoughts on all things cricket.
First up we asked, how disappointing is it that we are not beginning a new campaign this Saturday?
He said: “Of course it is both disappointing and frustrating, but look, there’s a bigger picture here, and that is one that rightly has cricket very low down in the list of priorities and, hand on heart, I would gladly give up the entire season at the Maer ground as a trade-off for ensuring that everyone connected with the club across the age spectrum gets safely through this Coronavirus pandemic and is back with us in 2021.”
He continued: “The disappointment is born out of the fact that we were looking forward to this season and felt we had three good XIs to go out and compete at the three levels they were set to play in.
“What’s more we had put together teams that would have certainly enhanced the club spirt that is so important to me. I am not a fan of ‘throwing money’ at things and feel a far better way forward is to build a club that has within it an environment that players want to be part of and buy into.
“As a club, we have worked hard to get ready for the 2020 season and I know that Andrew [1st XI skipper Andrew Buzza] had got himself a squad he felt was very capable of having a good season in the top flight. In addition to the three senior XIs we had a recharged junior section raring to go with no fewer than 85 colts’ fixtures set to be played throughout the season. Indeed, we had age group teams from U8s through to U15s and I am indebted to the folk behind our recharged and reinvigorated youth section because when the junior side of things is strong, it makes the well-being of the whole club that much stronger.”
He added: “Of course, we remain positive and hopeful, we might see some cricket at some stage – be that over the final six or eight weeks of the summer – but if we don’t then, so be it, for; as I have already alluded too, this Coronavirus situation is a threat to people’s lives and that makes it far more important that we do not consider any form of return to action, whatever the sport, before the relevant authorities tell us it is safe – and wise – to do so.”
So, does the Exmouth chairman think we will see any cricket?
“It looks highly unlikely given all the talk of social distancing being with us for some time to come. If we were to get a couple of weeks in at the end of the season then we’d be ready, but it might be better for all if we simply say that it isn’t going to happen so that we can all get on with making sure we all do what we are meant to be doing to keep ourselves, our families and friends and our fellow citizens, safe.”
Mark is doing his bit with regard to ‘staying in touch’, something he explained saying: “The demographic of cricket is such that many of our followers are folk who have either served us as players or supporters over many years and it is their age group, 70 plus that are most at threat from this cursed virus. I have called folk on the phone for a chat to let them know we are here to help them if needed and therein lies the issue with regard to the ‘will we play or won’t we play’ any cricket this summer, and it is that if we did ‘go back to normal’ but then suffer a second wave of this, then it will be the older generation that we will lose. So, the message is one I get loud and clear, we’ll not be going anywhere close to returning to cricket until we get told it is safe to do so.”
Mark does think though, that there may be some plusses to come for cricket after the Coronavirus pandemic.
He explained saying: “One area that I hope we will see change is the ruthless side of the game and by that I mean the fact that money is seen by some, including yours truly, as a scourge of the game and, in a post-pandemic era I would like to think there will be less money thrown at individual players and we can get back to a level playing field where there is greater respect on a club-for-club basis and we see a return to the thinking of ‘developing our own in-club talent’ and not looking to throw money at is in order to obtain a quick-fix or indeed, short-term success.”
He added: “No, for me, I certainly hope that what comes next is cricket where lads people play for the club because they want to, not because they can get a few quid more playing elsewhere.
“Don’t get me wrong, of course I understand the lure of getting financial renumeration to play the game, there’s an egotistic value as well as being able to enjoy a post-match beer or three at someone else’s expense.
“However, from where I am sitting as a club chairman, I’d love to see a time when all clubs competed on a level playing field – and that’s something that may well come back into being in a post pandemic cricketing era.”
To the question of what, if any concerns he has about the future post-pandemic, particularly with regard to the junior section, the Exmouth chairman says: “I think it’s a big worry that, let’s say we see no cricket this year and then the ‘big two’ of football and rugby then have extended seasons in 2021, what does that do to the younger element who play one of those big two sports and cricket as a ‘second sport’ - I fear that that would have a serious knock-on effect as we’d potentially lose the best part of two successive seasons, certainly in terms of junior cricket and that would surely mean a number of younger people would be lost to the game.”
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