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Mildenhall Cricket Club's expansion plans thwarted by coronavirus pandemic

Mildenhall Cricket Club’s plans for expansion in 2020 have been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to demand from players, the East Anglian Premier League side were looking to incorporate a new men’s fifth team for the 2020 campaign, as well as introducing a ladies’ second team.

With a return date for all sport currently unknown, it remains to be seen when the club will be able to roll out these teams.

CRICKET: Mildenhall v Bury St Edmunds Mildenhall Cricket Club Picture Mark Westley. (33546500)
CRICKET: Mildenhall v Bury St Edmunds Mildenhall Cricket Club Picture Mark Westley. (33546500)

And from chairman Lou Handy’s perspective, he is keeping his fingers crossed that interest levels remain high.

“We were initially going to introduce a fifth team in 2021, but we have had that many youngsters and their parents asking us about playing, we decided to do it a year early,” he said.

“The ladies section is also growing – we have had so many players turn up for nets during the winter.

“So it is was a real opportunity for us to expand. I doubt many East Anglian Premier League clubs would have those sort of numbers.

“The question is, will these people still be there in 2021? These people were keen, but they might find something else to do and then be lost to the game.

“That is not just Mildenhall, but the sport as a whole. With the World Cup last year cricket’s popularity grew, so we don’t want to lose that.”

In terms of the long-term future, Handy is confident Mildenhall will be able to ride this particularly testing storm.

A large part of that is down to the continued support of the club’s main sponsor, but he is concerned that others my go under.

“We are extremely fortunate to have had the support of our main sponsor Robert Palmer for a number of years and he has kindly said he will continue to do that,” added Handy.

“Other sponsors are unable to do that, which is obviously understandable, and who knows when they will be able to return.

“We are lucky in the sense that we own our own ground and we have shut everything down to keep things down to a minimal cost.

“We also had our Cricket Week last year and we put some money away from that.

“If there is no cricket at all in 2020, I think we will be fine, but I am not sure all clubs will be able to come out to play next year if we get nothing in the way of play.

“Like others we make money on the bar and subs – they are our main source of income.

“Without those sources, some clubs unfortunately might not get through this.”

Mildenhall had been due to start their fourth consecutive season in the East Anglian Premier League today with a trip over the Essex border to take on their Saffron Walden counterparts.

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