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The Kent Cricket League and the Kent Regional Cricket League have given teams the chance to opt out after scrapping promotion and relegation this summer

The Kent Cricket League have scrapped promotion and relegation for the 2020 season.

Both the KCL and the Kent Regional League are hoping to start in July, at the earliest, with half a season of fixtures in the diary. These will now be played as competitive friendlies.

Upchurch against Folkestone at Upchurch Cricket Club, Holywell Meadow Picture: Sean Aidan
Upchurch against Folkestone at Upchurch Cricket Club, Holywell Meadow Picture: Sean Aidan

The leagues have given all competing teams the option to sit it out for the season, should they wish, with no penalty.

In announcing their intentions, the KCL and the KRCL hope member clubs will have some kind of clarity, in an uncertain time.

League administrator Brian Smith said: “We have given clubs the chance to opt out. Some clubs might only want to play if there is the chance of promotion and relegation and players might not be up for it.

“Our aim is to start in July and play nine fixtures which will consist of half a season. There will be divisional winners, awards, top batsmen and bowlers but if clubs don’t want it then we need to know now so that we can put different scenarios in place.

Lordswood against Bexley in the Kent Cricket League, Premier Division last season Picture: John Westhrop
Lordswood against Bexley in the Kent Cricket League, Premier Division last season Picture: John Westhrop

“At the moment I am not confident we will start any time soon but nothing is off the table.

“All clubs ask me ‘when are we going to start?’ but if clubs now want to draw a line under 2020 and if their members say they don’t want to play, that they would rather be on the golf course or something else, then now is the time to tell us.

“We are just trying to get the cricket community together rather than having a win at all cost mentality. I know some clubs won’t like it but I am happy to take a call and explain the reasoning.”

Hopes are that play can resume some time after July - the first full week of fixtures would be Saturday 11th.

The KCL - in tandem with the Kent Regional Cricket League - have had to take a realistic view to how things will pan out, especially considering professional cricket won’t return until August, at the earliest.

Recreational cricket remains suspended, with only training permitted as per government’s current guidelines.

A joint KCL and KRCLstatement said: “Our plan remains unchanged at present, and we are still considering a July return to cricket.

“However, now that 'professional' domestic cricket has been suspended until the 1st August, we have to seriously consider the implications of an August start, and worst-case scenario, a return in May 2021.”

Minster are climbing the leagues but won't be able to challenge for promotion this summer. In action here last season against Ashford TownPicture: Matt Bristow
Minster are climbing the leagues but won't be able to challenge for promotion this summer. In action here last season against Ashford TownPicture: Matt Bristow

No club has yet opted out although a couple of expressed their displeasure. One are considering using the time to improve their playing facilities.

The statement, regarding opting out, added: “Initially we would only expect this in exceptional circumstances, such as major financial implications at a club, ongoing issues with the ground and facilities or confirmed issues with player availability for the remainder of the season.”

The league have asked clubs to provide feedback about any current issues, regarding grounds, finance and availability.

The ECB are looking at an adapted game play model, to help with social distancing during play.

While fixtures remain in place, they will be cancelled on a weekly basis until play is allowed to resume. If a minimum of six matches are played then the league say they will look at handing out divisional awards.

If they have to wait until August then the league have two options, either all games will be cancelled and it will be up to clubs to arrange their own fixtures or smaller groups will contest matches in local areas, with a finals’ day in September.

Playing cricket in October could give the league more flexibility but they are conscious of teams using this time to renovate cricket squares.

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