Southern Premier League to arrange League Cup if cricket returns

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Lymington CC skipper Matt Metcalfe takes a wicket in the Southern Premier League last season.

THE ECB Southern Premier League (SPL) is planning to launch a two-part 40-over red ball regionalised League Cup competition this month – if the government does a U-turn on its lockdown policy and gives the green light for recreational cricket to resume.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure to back down after his announcement in Parliament on 23rd June when he declared a cricket ball a ‘natural vector for disease’ and insisted the game had to stay under lockdown.

The county-level season will now return on the 1st August while England’s national team will play the West Indies on Wednesday at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl.

In the hope that the decision is reversed soon, the Southern Premier League has asked its 35 clubs whether they would be interested in playing competitive Saturday afternoon cricket, provisionally starting on 18th July.

This would give clubs two weeks to prepare their grounds, some of which have been neglected during two months of inactivity.

The plan sets out COVID- secure 40-over 11-a-side matches on a regionalised league structure to reduce travel, using only a home scorer and applying the existing points system.

The SPL plans to set up two leagues, combining the Premier Division and Division One, and a separate competition for teams in Divisions Two and Three.

If the competition goes ahead, it will provide clubs like Bashley (Rydal), Fawley, Hythe & Dibden, Lymington and New Milton with some meaningful late-season cricket.

But if there’s no change in government policy soon, then the prospects of any recreational cricket this summer are slim.

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