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ECB unveils interim support package

ECB unveils interim support package: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today announced a £61 million package to help cricket withstand the financial impact of COVID-19.

The plans detail a number of measures for the whole sport from elite to grassroots, including the MCC, the First-Class Counties (FCCs) and their County Cricket Boards (CCBs).

ECB unveils interim support package

ECB unveils interim support package

Local cricket clubs will also be offered support to see them through the coming months.

In accordance with Government advice the start of the cricket season has been delayed until at least 28 May. A range of options for cricket to begin in June, July or August are currently being modelled.

With revenues impacted across the game – from both cricket and non-cricket activities, the ECB Board today approved plans to expedite payments from a number of areas within its 2020-2021 planned distribution budgets.

Around £40m will be made immediately available through:

  • Early release of three months’ (May-July) county partnership distributions to FCCs and CCBs
  • The immediate availability of two years’ facilities maintenance distribution
    – Funds available unfettered and not restricted to facilities maintenance expenditure
    – A further £5.5m to be made available for counties who are not eligible for 2020-2021 ordinary facilities maintenance distributions
  • Suspension of international staging fees for four months and waiving of international staging fees payable in 2020 if the match is not played as scheduled due to COVID-19

An extra budget of just over £20m will become available to the recreational game through a cricket club support loan scheme, grants through the “Return to Cricket” scheme and a 12-month holiday on loan repayments for recreational clubs.

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ECB say groundsmen’s work is essential

ECB say groundsmen’s work is essential: The England and Wales Cricket Board and Yorkshire Cricket Board have deemed the work of groundsmen and women essential.

While virtually all other cricket activities have been stopped, Rod Heyhoe, secretary of the Yorkshire branch of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), has been reading through a five-page document from the ECB.

ECB say groundsmen's work is essential

ECB say groundsmen’s work is essential

“It is pretty self explanatory,” said the 74-year-old Lightcliffe Cricket Club legend.

“Originally we were just working (and still are) to government guidelines in terms of being six feet apart if you were working with someone else, but now our work has been considered essential in terms of doing things like cutting the grass, fertilising and watering.

“We don’t know when, or even if, there will be cricket in 2020 but as groundsmen, we need to be ready if and when we do get the go-ahead.”

The ECB’s advice to groundsmen is to get into the habit of cleaning their machines thoroughly immediately after use.

They advise that kennel disinfectants are a cheap and effective way of doing this, before wiping the equipment down with blue roll.

Mowing should take place regularly, with the turf ideally being maintained at no more than 25mm or one inch.

Growth regulators can be used to reduce the speed of grass growth and hence reduce the frequency of cutting, but that this should only be done by a qualified person.

Watering should also ideally continue to prevent wilting or surface cracking, while fertilisation is necessary to maintain the grass.

However, the ECB advise that nitrogen input should be reduced by something like a third to half of normal rates in order to control excess top growth and limit the likelihood of disease.

Meanwhile, verticutting of the squares and aeration of the outfields is considered important but only if government guidelines can be kept to.

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ECB – Coronavirus and Grounds Maintenance

ECB – Coronavirus and Grounds Maintenance: For the avoidance of doubt, due to the developing nature of the outbreak, all grounds teams must ensure that they are monitoring relevant Government and Public Health England (PHE) sites which may change and therefore have an impact on the contents of this document which is correct as of the morning of 25 March 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Should you decide that essential members of your grounds staff should continue to look after your facilities during this period of social isolation and are able to do so whilst keeping to the Government’s guidance, please be aware of several things that you should consider doing to minimise the impact of the virus on your teams and your business.

ECB - Coronavirus and Grounds Maintenance

ECB – Coronavirus and Grounds Maintenance

Things to think about with regards to your grounds:

  1. 1Public gatherings and use of facilities are suspended.
  2. Await ECB announcements regarding any regular cricket participation and return to business as usual activities.
  3. Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Most of what you do naturally means that you are physically distanced from one another anyway, however, you will need to be particularly mindful of those points where you are not.
  5. If you are a manager of others then do consider how to maintain effective communication.
  6. Do your own risk assessment. (For businesses with five or more employees, you are required to formally document risk assessments). When you have decided on the measures you are to take then record it, communicate it and stick to it. It is very important to consider your own working habits and setting and to assess where the risk of transmission is.
  7. Ensure that all surfaces and equipment are cleaned thoroughly as per government advice. Surface transmission is recognised now as the major source of spread and which can occur after prolonged periods.
  8. Do ensure that the right type of products are available for hand care.
  9. Some people may have drastically increased their hand washing habits and may be at risk from dermatitis. Barrier creams and skin moisturisers should be available as well as hand cleansers anyway but check and make sure people know how to use them properly. Hands are the main cause of the spread of the virus.
  10. Do consider splitting your people into distinct groups of essential workers who never come into contact with each other, ideally not more than two people at a time. This would include staggered shifts/days worked, break times or even separate rest areas. This way, if one member of the team catches the virus and those around them need to self-isolate, the other team pairs will be able to operate.
  11. Do maintain a minimum distance of two metres from each other, including at break times. If the weather is suitable then take the opportunity to take breaks outside. Do ensure that there is enough shade available to sit out of the sun if they wish to and that they can do so whilst maintaining their distance.
  12. Do not continue with tasks that require larger team efforts, such as pulling large flat sheet covers. Either use smaller covers or stop using them at all if it cannot be done safely with divided resources.
  13. Avoid using communal areas including clubhouses, toilets and kitchens unless absolutely necessary. If these are necessary, enforce heightened general hygiene measures in rest areas and communal areas. Establish regular (after each use) cleaning for all work surfaces, kettles, microwaves and sink areas etc. using disinfectant sprays.
  14. Cleaning cloths should only be used once before being properly washed in a hot cycle washing machine. Alternatively, use disposable wipes or blue-roll type products instead.
  15. Do not communally use mugs, plates, bowls etc and do make sure that each person has their own items with their name on or wash items in a dishwasher at a high temperature.
  16. Where essential to use changing facilities, you should bring your own towels and showering/changing items.
  17. Do establish a culture of cleaning machines thoroughly immediately after use, i.e. wash the machine down and disinfect the handles, grass boxes etc. Products such as kennel disinfectants are sold in bulk and are a cheap and effective way of doing this (and many of them smell nice!)
  18. Do make sure that you have suitable sprayers with which to apply the products and wipe down with blue roll or similar.
  19. Continue with normal best practice operations such as:
    a) Mowing would ideally take place regularly. A good rule of thumb to allow mowing operations to be kept to a minimum would be not removing more that 1/3rd of the leaf in any one operation.
    b) Mowing heights can be raised by around 1/3rd of normal summer heights without ill effects but turf would ideally be maintained at no more than 25mm/1inch or else turf density would be reduced.
    c) Growth regulators may be used to reduce the speed of grass growth, and hence reduce the frequency of cutting, but only where a suitably qualified person is available to apply them.
    d) Watering the turf would ideally continue, as needed, to prevent wilting or surface cracking.
    e) Fertilisation will still be necessary, if possible, in order to maintain the sort of relatively dense and resilient turf needed for cricket. Inputs of nitrogen could be reduced by somewhere in the region of one third to half of normal rates in order to control excess top growth and limit the likelihood of disease where monitoring of the surfaces is less frequent.
    f) Verticutting of squares and aeration of outfields is important, but only if you are able to do so whilst keeping within the Government’s guidance and adhering to the spirit of what we are being asked to do as a society.
    g) Removing the tops from domed covers and storing any flat sheets will protect them whilst not in use.
  20. Consider what will happen should we all be asked to stay at home.
  21. Individuals must not be at work if:
    a) they exhibit any potential symptoms; and/or
    b) they have been in contact with anybody exhibiting potential symptoms of coronavirus within the past 14 days.​

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
NHS COVID-19 Advice

An assumption throughout this document is that any ground staff member required at any work does not meet the current government guidance for self- isolation (as of 23 March 2020), per the PHE link included above.

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ECB statement on recreational game

ECB statement on recreational game: “Following the Government’s latest advice around social distancing, it is with sadness and reluctance that we recommend that all forms of recreational cricket are for now suspended.

“This extends to training, pre-season friendlies and any associated cricket activity.

ECB statement on recreational game

ECB statement on recreational game

“Sport plays an absolutely vital role in the nation’s mental and physical wellbeing, and it helps people find meaning where there is fear and uncertainty, so one of our goals in the coming weeks will be to explore ways that we can support some levels of physical activity in communities – particularly at junior levels.

“Using our cricket community to support others could be one of the most important services we can offer during the difficult next few months.

“It will be critical that any decisions we do make are medically-led. And we will continue to work with Government and their advisors to ensure we are informed by science in our decision making.

“Over the coming weeks we will work with the game to understand what support is required across the cricket community, particularly local clubs and leagues – who will have such a huge role to play in our nation’s response to coming out of this situation.”

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Groundsman’s ECB commendation

Groundsman’s ECB commendation: Radlett Cricket Club head groundsman Nick Searle has received a commendation in this year’s annual ECB Groundsman of the Year Awards.

The Award, in the out-ground venues category, is awarded to groundsmen around the country who have hosted matches across any of the three formats and are judged based on the pitch performance and ratings provided by the ECB’s Cricket Liaison Officers who are present at the matches, having taken feedback from both umpires and both competing captains.

Groundsman's ECB commendation

A busy year for Radlett Cricket Club in 2019 saw the club’s Brunton Memorial Ground host Middlesex matches across all three competition formats, holding first-class County Championship and Vitality Blast matches there for the first time ever and hosting its seventh List-A clash for Middlesex.

2020 will see Radlett again being utilised by Middlesex as one of its preferred out-ground venues, with the club being used as the home base for all four of Middlesex’s fifty-over Royal London Cup matches next season.

Speaking of receiving the ECB commendation, Searle, commented: “A huge amount of work goes in to making the quality of the pitches here at Radlett as good as possible, and it’s always nice to have that effort recognised by the officials at the game and by the ECB.

“We are extremely proud to host Middlesex games in Radlett, and the challenges that come with hosting matches for a professional side are something that the ground-staff here rise to and enjoy.

“I’d like to thank my number two, Jez Menzies, and the rest of the team for their efforts and we very much look forward to hosting Middlesex again this summer in the Royal London Cup.”

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Greenkeeper Takes Up Role As ECB Pitch Adviser


Falmouth Greenkeeper Takes Up Role As ECB Pitch Adviser. Cornwall Cricket is delighted to announce the appointment of Simon Johnson, Head Greenkeeper at Falmouth Golf Club, and Head Groundsman at Mount Ambrose CC as its new named ECB Pitch Adviser.

Greenkeeper Takes Up Role As ECB Pitch Adviser

Simon has more than thirty years’ relevant experience and has prepared pitches for Minor Counties’ games while at Camborne CC.

Kevin O’Kelly, who has been the ECB Pitch Adviser for the last five years, has agreed to stay on in an active role and assist Simon in his new position.

Simon Menneer, Cornwall Cricket CEO, said: “This is an excellent outcome for Cornish cricket. We have gained the services for the long-term of an outstanding and respected expert in his field, and retained the valuable services of our outgoing Pitch Adviser which will ensure continuity.”

The ECB Pitch Advisory Scheme is funded by Sport England and ECB, and represents the first governing body to address the issue of groundsmanship, in particular at recreational / non-professional level.

The project is to place 45 County Pitch Advisers across England and Wales and for their activities to be fully embraced into the work of County Cricket Boards.

Roles of a Pitch Adviser:

1. To advise on the quality performance of specific pitches / squares and produce recommendations (where necessary) for any improvements, which may include grant aid schemes (Prioritised Detailed Assessment).

2. To monitor the developments of any facilities on which recommendations are being implemented.

3. Available, if required, to assess pitches / squares in respect of various league criteria.

4. Create a response team for basic assessments.

5. Help build an effective Groundmanship Association.’

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