Officials at the Huddersfield Cricket League are determined to bring back promotion and relegation in 2021 – even if that means sacrificing the cup competitions.
The league has set a provisional start date of April 17 but is waiting on a decision from the Government and the English Cricket Board (ECB) in due course.
The executive committee says it is still too early to make any firm decisions but the plan is to play a full season with the final fixtures taking place on September 11.
If the start of the season is delayed by a few weeks then fixtures will be postponed – not cancelled – and the Sykes Cup and Paddock Shield may be scrapped to free up dates.
The 2020 campaign was compressed into around 10 weeks, instead of the usual 22 weeks, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some clubs were only able to field one team and matches were reduced to just 30 overs, with no promotion or relegation.
The next key date for the league is an executive committee meeting – via video conference – on March 3 but it remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have given more clarity on the easing of lockdown restrictions by then.
League chairman Trevor Atkinson said it was a waiting game for now.
“At the moment everyone is in lockdown and clubs haven’t been able to have their winter nets up for pre-season,” he said.
“We have plans in place for a start to the season on April 17. We have also got contingency plans in place if we aren’t able to start on that date.
“Even if we start around then we are working on the assumption that the same restrictions will be in place with regards to dressing rooms and bars not being in use.
“There are a lot of assumptions at the moment but obviously we haven’t been given firm guidance yet on what can happen.
“We are desperately wanting to get a full season in place with promotion and relegation and each team playing home and away.
“We are really going to move heaven and earth to achieve that and hopefully we pull it off.
“We get on with it but we have to adhere to the health and safety guidelines,” he added. “If they tell us we can’t use dressing rooms then so be it, or if the ball has to be sanitised after six overs then that’s what we have to do.
“They don’t tell us whether we have to play 30, 40 or 50 overs, that’s up to the Huddersfield Cricket League.
“You have to be optimistic that when it gets to the summer and most people have been vaccinated that the clubs can re-open bars and tea rooms and get some much-needed cash in.”
Last season was surprisingly successful given the restrictions and Mr Atkinson said: “In the end we were pleased with how it went.
“We only played 30 overs but most players actually enjoyed it. Statistically there was more cricket played last year than in most years because of the condensed season and other factors which came into play.
“There was no relegation or promotion last year and no individual honours given out. It was purely played for the love of the game.”