CLUB players across the county are ready and raring to go as league cricket finally gets underway on Saturday.
Both the Courage West of England Premier League and the Greene King IPA Gloucestershire County League launch much-delayed competitions which have been redrawn because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
The great majority of sides are looking forward to seven rounds of games while the Martin Berrill Bristol & District League will launch on the following weekend (August 1) with member clubs preparing for six rounds of matches.
All three competitions have torn up their existing divisions and devised new groups just for this summer. There will be no promotion or relegation and relaxed registration regulations as clubs adhere to ECB guidelines designed to ensure cricket is played in as safe an environment as possible.
Rules range from maintaining social distancing at all times, including during drinks breaks and wicket celebrations, to distinct running lines for batsmen, hygiene breaks every six overs or 20 minutes, and not applying sweat or saliva to the ball.
Players must also bring their own tea, use only their own equipment where possible and not travel to matches in cars with people from different households.
Steve Silk, the chief executive of the Gloucestershire Cricket Board, said: “It’s fantastic to finally see the curtain being raised on competitive cricket.
“A tremendous number of people have worked extremely hard to help make this happen with the Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire county boards combining closely with volunteers who, behind the scenes, have pulled out all the stops.
“It’s thanks to their efforts that we have this wonderful opportunity to make the most of the second half of the summer and play as much cricket as possible when, at one stage, we wondered whether we might have a season at all.
“It’s all about making cricket as safe and enjoyable an experience as possible, keeping as many people as we can in the game and generating some real momentum which we can take into the 2021 season.”
Opening weekend fixtures
Courage West of England Premier League – (12.30pm start) Covid Group A: Bath v Bath II, Knowle v Brislington, Lansdown v Frome, Midsomer Norton v Keynsham.
Covid Group B: Bedminster v Bristol, Clevedon v Winterbourne, Downend v Congresbury; bye for Bishopston.
Covid Group F: Cheltenham v Rockhampton, Frocester v Dumbleton, Hatherley & Reddings v Stroud, Thornbury v Gloucester.
Covid Group G: Bristol II v Bristol West Indian Phoenix, OB Westbury v Twyford House, Stapleton v Golden Hill.
Covid Group H: Apperley v Thornbury II, Cirencester v Frocester II, Corse & Staunton v Bourton Vale, Painswick v Cheltenham Civil Service.
Greene King IPA Gloucestershire County League (1pm starts) – A West: Aston Ingham v Tewkesbury, Cinderford St John v Gloucester AIW Sports, Kingsholm v Lydney, Redmarley v Westbury-on-Severn.
A East: Chipping Campden v Langford, Great Rissington v Woodmancote Saints, Poulton v Cheltenham II, Shurdington v Hatherley & Reddings II.
A South: Cam v Hawkesbury Upton, Frampton-on-Severn v Oldlands, Rockhampton II v Frocester III, Tetbury v Chipping Sodbury.
B West: Gloucester II v Ullenwood Bharat, Lydney II v Corse & Staunton II, Newent v Woodpeckers, Tewkesbury II v Dymock.
B East: Birdlip & Brimpsfield v Cranham, Dumbleton II v Cirencester II, Fairford v Cheltenham Civil Service II, Sheepscombe v Minchinhampton.
C West: Down Hatherley v Kingsholm II, Hatherley & Reddings III v Churchdown, Parkend v Aston Ingham II, Westbury-on-Severn II v Apperley II.
C East: Bourton Vale III v Chedworth, Langford II v Cricklade, St Phillips North v Poulton II, Woodmancote Saints II v Witcombe.
C South: Hardwicke v Upton St Leonards, Stroud II v Haresfield Gladiators, Whitminster v Stone (group also includes Eastcombe and Tormarton).