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The Bristol County Ground

Nevil Road, Bristol, BS7 9EJ

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FIVE weeks of action in the Martin Berrill Bristol & District League gets underway on Saturday with 126 teams competing in 21 newly drawn up ‘pods’.

Officials have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that member sides of one of the largest competitions in the country have meaningful action to enjoy after months of wondering whether there would be any cricket at all because of the on-going Coronavirus crisis.

Chairman Trevor Crouch admitted this has been a challenge like no other but paid tribute to the many people throughout the sport who have played a role in ensuring more than 60 matches will now take place every weekend through to August 29.

He said: “There’s been a tremendous amount of cooperation with everyone at every level working together to get cricket on – and to ensure it is as safe as possible.

“The clubs deserve a lot of credit while all the other leagues in our area have come together along with the various cricket boards to make this happen.

“We’re also lucky that (league secretary) Tony Hitch and (results administrator) Marek Petela have done a fantastic job over many, many hours drawing up the new pods.

“A majority of our clubs are involved but a few have opted out for this year because they may not have their own pitch, cultural reasons or not being certain that they would have enough players.

“We hope to see everyone back for next season.”

The league devised new, no promotion no relegation, six-team pods for this summer which tried to balance out reducing travel times whilst remaining competitive and also taking into account ground availability.

It’s been far from straightforward but there’s now much to look forward to, helped by a positive weather forecast.

Crouch added: “It’s now very important that all teams follow the Covid regulations and be responsible.”

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.

Each side must also keep a record of those who play in games, along with contact details, to assist if necessary with NHS Track & Trace requirements.

For full opening weekend fixtures, visit: http://bdca.play-cricket.com/website/web_pages/3570

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