BEFORE the untimely intervention of Covid-19, we at Herefordshire Cricket Limited had created an exciting new strategy entitled “Inspiring Generations” to deliver our ambitions for game-wide growth and sustainability.

A new County Partnership Agreement (CPA), governs the relationship between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the first-class counties for both the professional (performance) and recreational (community) aspects, for the period 2020 to 2024.

We had reviewed the results of the consultation and decided our aim of retaining and increasing participation could be achieved with the following priorities:

o Support clubs and leagues to provide opportunities that meet players’ needs, both senior and junior

o Increase the quantity and quality of cricket coaches

o Support schools in delivering cricket in the playground and classroom

o Grow and increase participation in women's and girls' cricket

o Use cricket to deliver wider social outcomes

This meant a re-structuring of staff, with new roles in performance, development, schools and women and girls.

These jobs had been advertised when lockdown occurred on March 23 and so are on hold.

The funding of the roles and additional funds for grassroots cricket were linked to the new Hundred competition, but that was postponed along with all national competitions.

Thankfully, the West Indies and Pakistan Test series have mitigated the ECB’s original estimate of a £380m loss to somewhere around £120m.

Still a massive blow to all forms of cricket but, with a new One Day World Series and Test Match World Championship, international cricket, alongside the Hundred, with more terrestrial TV coverage, will bring cricket to the fore again.

Locally, Herefordshire Cricket Limited and Herefordshire County Cricket Club have come together as one body for the good of the game.

A new constitution is being worked on and the board, which is now made up of a wider representation of skills, works closely with the staff on delivering key priorities for the benefit of cricket in the county.

During the pandemic, HCB has continued supporting clubs, leagues and stakeholders and communicating effectively to ensure all messages from ECB and Government reach the wider game.

Recreational cricket began in early July with Herefordshire clubs who play in the Worcester County League starting a re-structured format on July 18 and the Marches League started on August 1. There have been a number of financial support packages available to all clubs.

By Steve Watkins, Operations Director at Herefordshire Cricket