The ECB has started a series of planned site visits to clubs affected by the recent adverse weather as part of urgent recovery work to return grounds to a playable condition.
North-based ECB Facilities and Investment Manager Dan Musson will tour clubs throughout Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland with all visits to be carried out before the end of January.
The initial visits are aimed at assessing any damage sustained and determining the levels of funding and practical support required to kickstart the process of getting clubs back on their feet in time for the season ahead. The England and Wales Cricket Trust (EWCT) has pledged significant financial assistance for potential repair work in the form of a £500,000 emergency fund.
Speaking about this early activity Musson explained: “At the moment there are 40 clubs registered who are seriously affected by flooding and I’m aiming to visit all of them by the end of this month, with the majority of visits taking place between 13 and 21 January.
“Our primary aim is to get as many of these clubs as possible ready for the start of the season and actually playing cricket on their grounds.
“There might unfortunately be a few instances where clubs need to hire grounds for a season or share grounds while their playing surface is made ready but our goal is to have the vast majority back on the field of play as soon as possible and in time for the beginning of the season.”
Musson will be accompanied on part of the tour by Institute of Groundsmanship (IoG) Regional Advisor Ian Mather-Brewster, with the two together bringing much-needed insight and expertise.
“Ian’s a very useful man to have on board as he has been involved with managing flood situations for a number of years. He provided valuable support during the floods of 2009 and has been working with us directly for the past seven years, imparting advice and guidance to clubs.
“Before he moved to the IoG Ian was a very experienced professional cricket groundsman at Middleton Cricket Club in Lancashire, and he also served as an ECB county pitch advisor, which is our professional groundsmanship consultancy service. He brings a real wealth of knowledge about maintaining cricket surfaces and particular experience of supporting flooded clubs.”
Yorkshire CCC chief executive Mark Arthur has also committed to attend in Yorkshire and meet those in the cricket network in the county that have suffered because of the flood waters.
With many clubs still reeling from the chaos wreaked by Storm Eva over Christmas and Desmond before that, quick assessment and release of funds is a priority for Musson and co.
“We’ll inspect the site and sit down with key committee personnel and perhaps the groundsman to get a feel from the club for what the extent of the damage is, what costs they’ve established immediately, what they’ve already spent and their insurance position, and from there work out what their initial approach will be.
“Physically we’ll look at the cost to clean up the ground and get it ready for the season and to perhaps put practice facilities back in place. Any costs that aren’t covered by insurance we’ll consider through our funding streams. Sport England has also agreed to provide funding through its flood relief scheme.”
Both the ECB and Sport England have dedicated emergency relief funds to help those clubs that meet the assistance criteria.
“Sport England has made available a pot to all sports clubs and is allowing up to £5,000 per application for certain defined costs,” explained Musson.
“This is particularly concentrated on grass pitch restoration and direct clean-up costs, for example skip hire and perhaps machinery to get mud or silt washed away or drains cleared.”
“We [the ECB] will look at a whole range of costs as clubs could suffer any number of expenses – in some cases it could be lost revenue, excesses on insurance, damage to machinery, damage to various items of equipment that aren’t insurable plus obviously the key thing, which is the ground.
“The EWCT has allocated its available £500,000 to the early support of these affected clubs and we’ll assess based on the site visits and the evidence that the clubs provide.
“Once we’ve evaluated a club’s costs and needs we’ll then provide a grant award immediately. We will aim to send out grant award contracts within five working days of the site visit – in many cases we’ll do it a lot quicker than that – and then turn around a simple claim process so the money is ideally in a club’s bank account within three weeks of the initial visit.”
It will be a busy couple of weeks for the ECB and county board teams in the north but support is also required in other areas: “The three majorly hit counties were Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire but there were also two isolated incidents at Llanwrst Cricket Club in North Wales and Corbridge Cricket Club in Northumberland.
“We’ll be making sure that we fully support those two clubs as well.”
As clubs, county boards and the ECB embark on the first steps towards recovery from nature’s whims, the outlook is beginning to look a little brighter, with all levels of cricket working to make a difference.
“It’s absolutely fantastic the way that the cricket family has pulled together,” added Musson. “From a club level the number of volunteers who’ve been working incredibly hard to try and save elements of their cricket ground while their own homes might be significantly affected by flooding is just remarkable.
“The county boards are very enthusiastic about helping and supporting their clubs. All [of the boards] have set up Crowdfunding pages to support their clubs and cricket clubs have donated from as far as Essex and Scotland in addition to lots of local clubs pledging money.
“All in all, the cricket family from the elite level right down to the local fan and the local volunteer is really pulling together to try and help these clubs.”
Clubs to be visited
Appleby Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Carlisle Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Cockermouth Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Eden Hall Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Kendal Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Keswick Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Rockliffe Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Workington Cricket Club (Cumbria)
Bradshaw Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Croston Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Earby Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Garstang Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Heywood Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Ramsbottom Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Rochdale Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Saddleworth Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Todmorden Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Unsworth Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Walsden Cricket Club (Lancashire)
Corbridge Cricket Club (Northumberland)
Llanrwst Cricket Club (Wales)
Airedale Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Bingley Congs Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Bolton Percy Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Bradford & Bingley Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Bridgeholme Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Copley Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Haworth Road Methodists Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Ilkley Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Masham Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Mytholmroyd Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Olicanian Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Saltaire Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Saville Stars Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Shipley Providence Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Silsden Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Spofforth Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Riddlesden Cricket Club (Yorkshire)
Tong Park Esholt Cricket Club (Yorkshire)