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BCB overrules clubs on T20 for delayed start to season

Back to Stars: Tre Manders is leaving Southampton Rangers to return to Western Stars, one of 11 players changing clubs ahead of the new season (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The start of the 2021 cricket season has been put back to next Saturday, with the Bermuda Cricket Board confirming that Twenty20 matches will be the only format played for a second straight season.

However, that decision to play only T20 matches goes against the wishes of the clubs, who voted 7-6 last week in a BCB survey to play 50 overs cricket this summer.

Yesterday the board stated that the decision was taken to go with the shorter version of the game for financial reasons, as well as player availability.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, availability of players and economic return per match and field availability, will see the 2021 season mirror that of our successful Return to Play in 2020,” the BCB said in a statement.

“The 2021 league season will consist of two complete rounds which will include promotion and relegation, two up and two down.”

Steven Douglas, the BCB cricket chairman, said field availability was the reason behind the decision to delay the start of the season. “We’re not going to get all our fields available until later on, in fact if we were going to start this weekend we wouldn’t have six fields available,” he said.

Douglas claimed the decision to stay with 20 over games for a second year was made in the best interest of the game. “Yes, we did have a meeting with the clubs. Yes, we did give clubs an option, but also early in February clubs were voicing their concerns about playing games back-to-back on weekends,” he said.

“We tried to give everybody the opportunity to have a voice at the meeting. They voted and in the end, yes, even though they are taking a gate, some clubs will not make the revenue they want to make by playing just one game. But if they have a double-header at their ground, it will allow for some clubs to get more revenue.

“More or less, it was the success of last year that persuaded us, even more so, to go back to Twenty20 right now. People enjoyed watching two games, just like they would enjoy watching a big game like Cup Match.”

Entry fee for the double-header games has been increased from $5 to $10, providing additional revenue for the clubs who have been hard-hit by the pandemic of the past 15 months.

“When we looked at it real carefully, it was better for clubs,” Douglas added. “They may not see it right away, but they will in the end.”

The board is still trying to determine what grounds will be available for the opening matches before releasing the schedule.

The season, which was meant to start this weekend after plans for an early May start had to be scrapped because of further Covid-19 restrictions, will begin on June 26, a couple of weeks earlier than last season’s July 12 start, the latest start to a season of domestic cricket.

This will be the second season without 50-overs matches, after last season’s 20-overs games were played at only four venues — Wellington Oval, St David’s, White Hill Field and Somerset Cricket Club.

The board added: “We look forward to seeing all fans of cricket and sport as of June 26 and hope that we can return to our traditional scheduling in 2022.”

Plans are under way to return to Cup Match and county games this season, although some uncertainty was expressed last week over whether Annual Classic will be back this year.

Douglas, who is also the president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association, said everything is pointing towards the return of county cup, starting with the first round between champions St David’s and Flatts on July 17.

“We’re still marching forward with our plans and just trying to finalise everything,” he said of the counties.“

• Bermuda batsman Tre Manders is leaving T20 champions Southampton Rangers to rejoin Western Stars for the 2021 season.

The BCB released a list of 11 transfers yesterday, including confirming that Allan Douglas Jr and Jabari Darrell will be joining St George’s, as revealed recently by The Royal Gazette.

Also obtaining transfers are Dean Stephens, from Cleveland to Willow Cuts, and Randy Bean and Tai Cariah, who are leaving Somerset to join Southampton Rangers. Darrien Gibbons is also leaving Somerset, for PHC.

Rudell Pitcher is moving to Devonshire Rec from St David’s, while Drewonde Bascome will join him after transferring from St George’s.

The other transfers are Sharye Tavares-Gibbons, from Somerset Bridge to Bailey’s Bay, and Gianni Santucci, who is leaving St George’s for neighbours St David’s.

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Published June 16, 2021 at 10:41 am (Updated June 16, 2021 at 10:41 am)

BCB overrules clubs on T20 for delayed start to season

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