With club cricket getting the go ahead from Government, competitive fixtures will start this week in the North Yorkshire South Durham (NYSD), Darlington and District and Wensleydale leagues.
Richmondshire has been following the regularly updated English Cricket Board directives closely to gradually introduce cricket activities.
This started a few weeks ago with the opening of socially distanced pre-booked net sessions, followed by the small groups coaching for the juniors.
This was initially restricted to groups of six, but this week was raised to groups of ten. The NYSD League management has been regularly updated their contingency plans depending on the date that cricket was given the green light.
A start date of the 18th July was just early enough to bring in the plan which would allow all teams to play each other once with the fixtures being extended through to the 19th September.
The winning team will be awarded the championship but there will be no promotion or relegation this season. It is also planned to play several of the major NYSD cup competitions.
The clubhouse at Hurgill Road reopened for business on the 4th July with reduced opening hours. With a large outside seating space Richmond’s largest beer garden has proved a popular venue and this weekend there was even some cricket to watch, with internal warm up matches on both Saturday and Sunday.
Financially the club has been supported by grants from Government to small businesses through Richmondshire District Council and Sport England and additionally by many members keeping up their membership payments and in many cases making additional donations. Membership Secretary Mike Heseltine said, “It has been really encouraging to see how many members have renewed their membership despite the lack of cricket and the generosity of those adding donations to help the club at this difficult time”.
The fixtures for the first weekend of competitive cricket on the 18th/19th July see the Richmondshire 1st team playing away at newly promoted Normanby Hall, while the 2nds will be at home to Sedgefield 1sts. Both games 12.30pm starts.
The 4th team have transferred from the Darlington and District League to the NYSD Division Four and will play Bedale 2nds at Richmond School, while the 5ths are away at King James, both 1.30pm start.
On Sunday, the 3rds are at home to Norton 3rds in the NYSD Sunday Premier League, 1.3pm.
The following week sees the beginning of the programme of cup fixtures with the 2nd team at home to Sedgefield 1st on Tuesday in the Haith cup. On Wednesday, the 3rds will away to Darlington R.A. in the Arthur Sanders Cup, if they defeat Seaton Carew in the first round this week. Then on Thursday the 1sts are at home to Hartlepool in the Macmillan Cup, all cup games are 6pm starts.
Club chairman Mark Layfield said: “Playing and watching cricket this season will be different for all the players and supporters but what is important is that we are playing again.
“The enjoyment and relief I witnessed last weekend during the two warm up games was something to behold both from the players and also from our loyal supporters.”