Club cricketers are bowled over by return to action

They brought their own tea; they couldn't use the changing rooms. But North London teams were just happy to be allowed to get back on the pitch


The sun had the good grace to make an appearance as Jewish cricket returned on Sunday.

Players from Belmont and Edgware, one of the few Jewish cricket clubs left in the country, strapped on their pads for real in their first match of the season.

The government had finally responded to the clamour to permit recreational cricket — former England captain Michael Vaughan last month branded its delay as “nonsense”.

Belmont and Edgware chairman Mark Ableson said the players had remained “hopeful” during the months of lockdown that they would be able to take the field this season.

“We had Zoom quizzes every two weeks so the guys kept together and the WhatsApp group was always buzzing.”

When news of the resumption broke, the team rushed back to the nets.

“We had three two-hour sessions with 18 people attending every time,” he reported.

With their Chess Valley League division four matches cancelled this year, all games will be friendlies. But they had to ring around to find another team to play. “It was all hands to the pump,” Mr Ableson said.

Cricket has had to make some adjustments for health and safety. “Everyone has to bring their own tea; we can’t use changing rooms. The ball is sanitised after every six overs. The slips are theoretically supposed to stand a metre apart.”

And shining the ball with saliva to help it swing is strictly forbidden.

Mr Ableson had the satisfaction of watching his team chase down a target of 242 for victory over Rosslyn CC with new skipper Elliott Mayer and Adam Jacobs making half-centuries.

“I was delighted to see the lads up for it,” he said. “It was a lovely day.”

Alex Haffner, chairman of Vale, who are due to enjoy their first outing this weekend, said the club had been “busy getting the show back on the road. We have been really pleased with the huge enthusiasm shown by our members, so much so that we have committed to playing two Sunday elevens every week till the end of the season.

“While the uncertainty around the restart date has meant the cancellation of the Chess Valley League we were due to have both elevens in, we have a range of friendly matches to get stuck into, starting this coming weekend, including a prestigious fixture at our fantastic new home ground, Southgate CC.”

In addition, each of Vale’s three colts teams — under-11, under-13 and under-15 — now have five games to look forward to.

“We had a fantastic turnout at our first outdoor training session last weekend and the colts cannot wait to start playing matches, which start next week for all three of the teams,” said Anthony Wise, who runs the colts.

Mr Haffner believed “the Covid-19 pandemic will act as a spur for the club to continue and strengthen the steps we had already put in place to create a pathway between colts and adults cricket and ensure that we can offer a thriving centre for Jewish cricketers of all standards”.

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