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Destination east: St George’s confirmed as Cup Match 2021 hosts

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Cup Match is set to return to St George’s this year, but there remains uncertainty, should it go ahead, over whether scaffolding and closely bunched spectators will be allowed (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

St George’s Cricket Club will host the 2021 Cup Match at Wellington Oval should the island’s premier sporting events go ahead as planned.

The annual two-day classic pitting perennial rivals Somerset and St George’s against each other on the big stage is scheduled to be held on July 29 and 30.

“As of now Cup Match is on,” Neil Paynter, the St George’s Cricket Club president, told The Royal Gazette.

Neil Paynter, president of St George’s Cricket Club

“If there is a Cup Match, it will be in St George’s on July 29 and 30. But what it’s going to look like we don’t know that yet because obviously there are going to be regulations in reference to the ongoing pandemic.”

Since Cup Match was cancelled for the first time in its 118-year history last summer, there has been much speculation over the 2021 venue, with many of the belief that Somerset should retain hosting rights and not be punished for a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

The cup-holders were initially of that view as well, but have apparently now come around to the St George’s way of thinking — which has been consistent from the outset that the Annual Classic this year would be in the east.

“We fully support our counterparts at St George’s Cricket Club in their efforts to host Cup Match 2021,” Vashun Blanchette, the Somerset president, said.

“I am looking forward with great excitement. Cup Match is steeped in cultural significance, and it is important we exhaust every avenue to play the match.

“Fortunately, there is a better collective understanding of the pandemic, which gives cause for optimism to at least have the match played.

“It is our hope that we are able to welcome everyone to the classic at Somerset Cricket Club in 2022, accompanied with all the longstanding traditions.

“This would be a fitting manner to celebrate the 120th anniversary of this great occasion.”

Despite uncertainty still surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a government shutdown of all sporting activities early last month, organisers are moving ahead with their plans to stage the two-day cricket spectacle.

“It’s pretty obvious because of what’s happening in our island and around the world that Cup Match, if it goes on, may not look as it usually does; meaning scaffolding, etc,” Paynter said.

“A lot is going to depend on what the regulations are in reference to spectators. It may be a case where they [Government] say we can only have X-amount of fans or we can’t have any at all. I don’t know.

“We are going to work very hard on our part, both clubs, to get Cup Match going this year. But a lot is going to depend on the forces that are beyond our control.”

Stakeholders are scheduled meet next week to discuss important details.

“We are going to be meeting with government agencies,” Paynter said. “It’s a joint committee that’s been set up for the last two Cup Matches where the health, national security, and we [clubs] meet in the lead-up to discuss Cup Match.

“We have a meeting next week to start the preliminary meetings in reference to what are the expectations from the Government when it comes to putting on events.

“We are going to be working along with those government agencies to see what we can do first and then what we can’t.”

He added: “We want Cup Match to go off. But at the same we want to ensure the health and safety of all of Bermuda because the last thing we want to have is a wonderful Cup Match and then the island have another outbreak.

“What we are doing at St George’s is putting almost like three plans together in the eventuality of a best-case scenario to a worst-case scenario.”

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Published January 29, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated January 28, 2021 at 11:15 pm)

Destination east: St George’s confirmed as Cup Match 2021 hosts

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