Cricket: Cork Harlequins can provide safe environment for return to training

Cricket: Cork Harlequins can provide safe environment for return to training
Cricket action between Cork County and Harlequins at the Mardyke. Picture: Damien Quirke

WITH cricket on hold, we caught up with Cork Harlequins CC secretary Chris Hickey about sporting life in lockdown.

A Carrigaline native, he says the club have tried to keep players connected.

“As a committee, we recognised the need to reconnect the Quins cricketing family, so we set up a large number of practice drills, challenges and Q&A sessions on social media, YouTube, and Zoom — #StayWithTheGame — to help members interact at a fun level and at a level to relieve the monotony of lockdown, but also with many practical elements for players to work on relating to both the mental and technical sides of the game.

“Our online Q&A group sessions have been fantastic for everyone, and we’d like to thank Jim Troughton, Warickshire CCC head coach; Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie; Ireland starlet Harry Tector; and the England bowler and Ashes hero of 2009 Graham Onions for their time, interest, and wonderful insights in the sessions."

Last week saw the return of golf and tennis, under strict guidelines, and while matches are a while off yet, Hickey can see no reason why cricketers from all over the country shouldn’t themselves be training this week.

“Cricket practice can be organised following sensible social distancing guidelines quite easily,” he said.

“The country has adhered remarkably well to rules of the crisis and now that groups of four people are able to exercise together following strict guidelines, this should be extended to cricket clubs.

“The mental health benefits cannot be overestimated. Cork Harlequins has a policy in place ready to go which would provide a safe training environment for members, along similar lines to the Tennis Ireland guidelines, but now we just need the go-ahead from Cricket Ireland.”

As the Quins secretary has already suggested, the club has a detailed document around returning to training, specifically around the topics of travelling and arriving to the ground, as well as designated areas for players to sanitise and leave their gear.

There are then strict protocols around how to behave during practice, no-go areas, and net guidelines, as well as re-sanitising after practice and return-home guidelines to be adhered to.

“It’s easily done, but members are very frustrated about why they can’t train due to the fact that there are high levels of natural social distancing in cricket anyway,”he said.

On the chances of matches, he said: “Hopefully. My heart says yes.

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