Things have moved at pace since I wrote to you on 25 June and It seems the ECB’s lobbying and on-going dialogue with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has won through. I am delighted to confirm that our club will return to the field of play from Saturday 18 July.
For the Dolphins, this means we shall play a half-season of nine league fixtures, plus two Sunday friendlies, running from Saturday 18 July to Saturday 12 September. Full details of our fixtures are available on our website (www.harpendendolphins.hitscricket.com).
That said, we shall be playing under new and strict guidelines issued by the ECB. I felt it useful to share with you some of the changes, especially if you chose to come and support us at any match. Specifically for those who may choose to come along in support of the club, please note the following:
- We are not able to serve cricket teas or refreshments. Players will bring their own food and drinks. Unfortunately (but understandably) we shall therefore not be able to offer our usual hospitality (cup of tea, cakes etc) to our small band of supporters.
- The pavilion will only be accessible to use the toilets – which will be via a one-way system. No other access to the pavilion will be encouraged.
- Should there be rain breaks – and to support social distancing – everyone will be encouraged to shelter in their cars, not in the pavilion.
- Cricket gatherings are limited by the Government to a maximum of 30 people (this includes players and supporters). In practise, if you were to support from points around the boundary, I think you would be exempt from this 30-person limit. (But you may wish to bring your own deckchair!)
- Should the ball run over the boundary rope near you, please do not be tempted to pick it up and throw it back to the field of play. There are strict protocols regarding handling the ball – whilst it may feel less than helpful I urge you to sit tight and watch a hot, tired and breathless player run to fetch the ball and return it to the bowler!
Importantly, please note that whilst we get the pitches at Rothamsted Park back up to a standard able to host league cricket, we shall be playing our home matches at Napsbury Cricket Ground. There is ample parking right by the pitch and the vista is quite pleasant. For reference the address of our temporary home is:
Napsbury Cricket Ground
For our players, they shall be receiving specific guidance ahead of each match once their selection is confirmed. All relevant details and guidance are now accessible on the Dolphins website.
We have decided to consider our planned social events on a case by case basis as social distancing regulations adapt through the Autumn and Winter. We shall keep everyone posted on what is and is not possible as things become clearer.
I would also like to remind you that the bar at Harpenden CC is now open and we shall congregate there on Saturday evenings after each match for a social-distanced beer on the common (not in the pavilion).
We are encouraged that the sport we love is back and we are looking forward to enjoying cricket again from 18 July. Please don’t be dissuaded by the adaptations and COVID-19 regulations! I hope that we might see some of you at Napsbury Cricket Ground, or at Harpenden CC’s bar, at some stage before the season closes on 12 September.
With my best wishes.
Harpenden Dolphins CC