Last year, cricket in Scotland played its part in the fight against the virus and Cricket Scotland continues to work very closely with sportscotland and the Scottish Government, including in assessing how and when the 2021 cricket season can commence. The roll-out of the vaccines gives us all hope that we will be able to play more cricket this year than was possible last year but that cannot, of course, be guaranteed.
Following on from the latest Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework update about the phased and gradual easing of lockdown, Cricket Scotland continues to work towards, and lobby for, the return of the sport. In this we recognise, like all the Scottish cricket community, the continuing public health crisis caused by the virus.
The Scottish Government has stated their intention for the Level system (0 to 4) to return at the end of April, subject to the evolution of the virus. This should allow for some sport to be played close to the traditional start date for the cricket season, albeit probably under some restrictions. The detail of what activity will be permitted in each level is currently expected to be confirmed in mid-March.
We remain optimistic that a better domestic cricket season than last year will be possible in 2021. Last summer we proved that cricket is Covid-safe, and scientific research has been published since then showing that there is minimal risk of Covid-19 transmission through sports equipment such as cricket balls. There have been no reported cases of Covid-19 linked to cricket matches; through the work done last summer, we know that the game itself is safe and that risks of transmission through activity outside the boundary rope can be mitigated.
Cricket Scotland will continue to advocate for the game to be allowed to restart as soon as it is safely possible and our CEO Gus Mackay was part of a group of sport leaders who met with the Minister for Sport Mairi Gougeon to advocate for support for sports club . Since last season, cricket has been re-classified, following our representations, as a “non-contact” sport which should make the re-opening of the game easier under the regulations. For example, cricket will be able to take advantage of the relaxation in about mid-March (all going well) which will permit non-contact outdoor group sports for 12–17-year-olds.
The Scottish Government has made it clear that the timings they have laid out are indicative and any changes will be driven by the virus data. It should also be noted that the provisional dates for the resumption of activities in England set-out by UK Government on 22nd February do not apply to Scotland.
As has been the case throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Cricket Scotland is in regular contact with sportscotland to ensure that cricket is well represented in any plans for a return to sport. In addition, we will, as before, work with the Regional Associations and the new Cricket Scotland Match Officials Association to plan the season as greater clarity emerges.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and update you all regularly on progress. The next update will be issued in mid-March unless there are material developments before then.