The Cornwall Cricket League is “completely open-minded” about how the 2020 season could take shape, according to chairman Mark Mitchell.

The 2020 season was due to begin on April 18, but the start of the cricket season across the country was suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board in March amid the coronavirus outbreak, with the ECB’s only communication regarding the recreational game since then is that it “remains suspended until further notice”.

While the governing body hopes that international cricket can return from July 8 with England’s Test series against West Indies, one boost for amateur cricketers came last week when the government permitted limited practice in England, with net sessions in groups of no more than two people, unless it is exclusively with members of your own household, now allowed.

Mr Mitchell and other members of the CCL board have been on several conference calls with the ECB and other regional premier leagues in recent weeks, although very little concrete information has come out of these meetings.

“We, as a cricket league, are quite rightly falling into line with the other premier leagues, and indeed other cricket in general, and just going by what the ECB says so the whole of cricket is doing the same thing,” Mr Mitchell said.

“There’s nothing that we’ve been given on the quiet to hang on to for a few weeks and then release it, there is nothing. We’re given what we’re given, which we assume is correct, from any meetings they have with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”

He added: “The little step that was made last week was that the government department [of Culture, Media and Sport] agreed with cricket and with other sports what they could do extra and in cricket’s case that was letting people go and have a net or hit a ball around a field outside.”

'No point making plans'

The CCL has also been meeting with its member clubs across the county via the Zoom video conferencing app, with the league telling clubs in a meeting last Thursday that it remains open-minded about when competitive cricket can return.

“We’re going to be completely open-minded and if we can get some cricket, the more cricket we can get the better, and we will do our best to stage that and organise it in whatever shape or form that might be if we get the go-ahead to play 11-a-side cricket,” Mr Mitchell said.

“There is no point making plans because we don’t know what we’re planning for, that would be pointless. If we get, in a few weeks’ time, someone giving us an indication that we can start, say, in the middle of July, we can plan for that, but no-one’s suggesting we can so there’s no point.”

League 'may give up' on season

While firm plans cannot be put in place, the league has considered some possibilities for a shortened season, including pushing the end of the season back to the end of September and abolishing promotion and relegation.

Mr Mitchell said: “From early July you can play a full half a season, and the one thing we thought about is if it got to a couple of weeks later we would then probably still play half a season and go further by a couple of weeks to the end of September.

“The weather is often OK in September, so we can push it two or three weeks later and still get that half a season, or maybe play a couple of Sundays.

“We may give up on the whole thing of trying to play a league season and it may be, as someone suggested, people playing local games of cricket as friendlies.

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“If it’s anything structured, I don’t suppose it’ll be terribly far off what fixtures have been put out already because it would be a hell of a lot of planning to completely draw up something new. It would only be likely to be the same fixtures, maybe pushed back a few weeks.

“Whether we end up playing finals or don’t have finals, that’s a possibility, it saves us a week. Whether there would still be promotion or relegation or a reduced amount of promotion and relegation, again ditto, don’t know, we haven’t made any suggestion on that.

“Obviously, it’s less likely there would be much in the way of titles and promotion and relegation the shorter the season becomes, because people wouldn’t see that as being the fair way to do it.”

Clubs have been 'very well looked after'

Mr Mitchell praised clubs for their cooperation thus far, with most clubs respecting the extraordinary situation.

“Clubs have been sensible and understanding about it with us and they haven’t been clamouring and chasing Michael Weeks [media officer] or myself about it all the way through and saying, ‘Why aren’t we doing this, what can we do, when can we start?’” he said.

“They obviously understood and accepted that the information we’re giving them is all there is and understood it’s an unprecedented situation and we can’t do much about it.”

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Mr Mitchell said clubs have been “very well looked after” financially, with several clubs benefitting from the government’s small business grant, plus other loans and grants from the ECB.

“It’s been made sure that they’re probably not losing out financially and some of them have actually got more money than they will have lost by not playing and not having their bars open this year,” he said.

'Like having three winters on the trot'

Mr Mitchell reiterated his hope to see some form of structured season, even if only to prevent a near two-year gap between competition.

“I and a lot of others just really hope, and the word is hope, that we do get some few weeks of cricket this year so that that gap of a year and a half isn’t there,” he said.

“If we do play a few games, whenever we finish those few games in September, it’s then seven months ahead until the next time you’ve got cricket, the same as it would be if you played a whole season. But without that, it’s probably a 19-month gap.

Drawing a comparison between the cricket situation and the county's tourism concerns, Mr Mitchell said: "They [tourism companies] say if they don’t have their business in the summer it’s like having three winters on the trot, because of course they make their money through the summer and then they have to live through the winter on that, and it’s a bit like that in our cricket.”