Resolving cricket's fixture crisis
- Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
The Tolchards Devon Cricket League can hardly do right from wrong over the increasingly difficult situation with Covid-related cancellations.
Nearly a third of last Saturday's matches (21 of 73 games across 15 divisions) was called off, taking the total number of cancellations this season to more than 40.
At the time of going to press, the league committee was about to decide what to do about a problem which is expected to get worse rather than better. Or at least they were trying to.
They had already indicated that any rearranged games must be played before the scheduled last round of fixtures on August 29.
There had also been hints that fixtures which could not be rearranged might be decided on average-points from games already played.
Even the whole business of promotion and relegation has been questioned, especially if some issues might be decided on points gained or lost 'off the pitch'.
But promotion/relegation was also set aside last year, when the season was restricted by last summer's 'lockdown' to a six-week end-of-summer tournament.
Most club officials have sympathised with the dilemma which the league has faced, but growing doubts have been raised about whether it is right to change cancellation rules at this stage - there are only seven games to go.
Sidmouth skipper Luke Bess told the league's website: "If average points is the best option for games cancelled by Covid, why isn't it the best option for rains-offs?
"A cancelled game is a cancelled game. It would also stop teams that feel they will lose pushing for rain-offs and taking six points, which has definitely happened in the past."
Sidmouth did play at the weekend, thrashing Hatherleigh by ten wickets.
Alex Barrow (98no) and Isaace Thomas (44no) chased down 149 to win with nearly 23 overs to spare.
Bess' side (123pts) are up to fourth place in the Premier Division, but the title now looks between champions Tiverton Heathcoat (162) and Sandford (155) - Tiverton beat Paignton by five wickets and Sandford overcame Exeter by 63 runs.
Those two meet at Sandford in three weeks' time. Sidmouth 2nds-v-Braunton was one of the casualties in C East.
But Upottery (216-4) continued their improvement with a 70-run win over local rivals Ottery St Mary (146).
Down in G Division, second-placed Sidbury are within four points of leaders Shobrooke Park after Alex Paget's 47 helped them to a 47-run win over Alphington/Countess Wear. Sidbury are home to Kilmington 2nds (3rd) this weekend.
Saturday fixtures for local clubs include: Premier - Sidmouth v Cornwood, Paignton v Exmouth; A - Seaton v Bradninch, Tavistock v Budleigh Salterton; C East - Whimple v Sidmouth II, Ottery St Mary v Clyst St George, Exmouth II v Braunton, Exeter II v Shobrooke Park, Upottery v Sandford II; D East - Uplyme/Lyme Regis v Chardstock, Kentisbeare v North Devon II, Sidmouth III v Clyst Hydon, Alphington/Countess Wear v Sampford Peverell/Tiverton; E East - Budleigh II v Thorverton II, Axminster T v Ottery St Mary II, Bradninch II v Woodbury/Newton St Cyres, G East - Sidbury v Kilmington II, Woodbury II v Exmouth III.