Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall to stage inter-club games this weekend as cricket returns - but neighbours in different groups for new East Anglian Premier League format
Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall are set to host inter-club matches this weekend in preparation for the Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) returning later this month.
While the likes of the Two Counties Championship and the Norfolk Cricket Alliance have called off their 2020 campaigns, the region’s highest club league is set to benefit from holding on for the government and ECB’s green light.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Friday that recreational cricket could get under way from this weekend. But the ECB guidance was not sent to clubs on the format, which will be 11-a-side with no restrictions on overs but no food provision or indoor changing, until Wednesday night. It was released publicly yesterday evening.
The EAPL board released details of their league's return last night that, following a vote on three options sent to their clubs, there will be a split into north and south regional leagues. This will then ease the difficulties in travelling under the current restrictions, with players from different households unable to share car journeys.
The winners of each mini league, who are set to play five home and five away matches from July 25 in a 50-over format, will then be offered the chance to contest a championship decider.
There will be no threat to Bury or Mildenhall’s participation in the region’s top tier with no relegation for 2020.
But despite being 13 miles apart, they will be in separate groups, meaning no local derby unless they were to both top the tables.
Bury are set to have games in the southern section against 2019 champions Frinton-on-Sea, third-placed Sudbury, newly-promoted Swaton & Babraham, Copdock & Old Ipswichian and Saffron Walden.
Chairman Paul Whittaker said: “We are ready and prepared. We had a committee meeting last night (Tuesday) to formalise our Covid-secure preparation provision and we are good to go.
“We hope to have an inter-club game this Sunday on the Astro-Turf wicket and our wicket is being prepared so we can play next weekend ahead of the first Premier League game.
“We already have all the fixtures for that and that will be a half season competition.
“We are now arranging other fixtures for our other teams with local clubs. We will be looking to keep the travel to a minimum for our other members.”
Junior coaching was also set to get under way this week at the Victory Ground in groups of up to six socially distanced with Suffolk Cricket having indicated they will be providing some junior competition play.
Mildenhall are set for local derbies with Burwell & Exning as well as games with last year’s runners-up Swardeston, fellow Norfolk sides Horsford and Great Witchingham and Cambridge.
Director of cricket Nick Allen revealed they had voted for a full division half season with a few week’s extension to get the maximum amount of games in.
Ahead of their inter-club matches at Wamil Walk this weekend, he said: “Everyone is really fired up to get out there as soon as we can.”
BROAD RETURN BOOST
While Mildenhall had already scrapped plans to bring in an overseas player, Bury St Edmunds
will be boosted for their 2020 half season by the return of Justin Broad.
The South African topped The Victory Ground-based club’s run charts as an 18-year-old with 936 at an average of 55.06 in 2019.
It helped to steer them to an eighth-placed finish following several seasons of dangerously
flirting with relegation.
Broad, who has a contract in the famed MCC Young Cricketers programme, completed a period
of quarantine after flying into the UK last month.
Bury St Edmunds chairman Paul Whittaker said: “Justin Broad, our South African, is back and he has been training with us for the last few weeks.
“He is really looking forward to playing some cricket now.”