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Coronavirus pandemic forces Newmarket to wait for return of cricket presence

After a prolonged battle, 2020 was supposed to be the year that cricket returned to Newmarket.

An initial proposal – spearheaded by recent district council candidate Frank Stennett – was made last summer to restore the sport to the purpose-built facility on The Severals for the first time since 2017, but that was rebuffed.

However, a second attempt was launched earlier this year and in February it was given the green light by town councillors.

Cricket action from Newmarket in 2011. Picture: Mark Westley
Cricket action from Newmarket in 2011. Picture: Mark Westley

While it was too late to play any competitive matches in a league, the intention was to restore a cricket presence within the town during the summer, ahead of entering a team into the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Premier League for 2021.

Yet, the coronavirus pandemic has halted those plans, and with recreational cricket currently suspended indefinitely, it remains to be seen when things will get going.

“Health is clearly the most important thing, but it is a blow and very frustrating we cannot have things under way now,” said Stennett.

“A lot of people put a lot of work in throughout the process, and it was not just us – a lot of councillors also provided their support.

“We had a coach lined up, plans were in place for the pitch and some schools were on board.

“We were also hopeful of getting some friendlies, potentially against a team of horse racing trainers and Godolphin.

“It is an uncertain time and time-wise it looks like it will be marginal if we will get to do anything this year.”

The delay, though, has not dampened Stennett’s enthusiasm for bringing cricket back to the town.

The project will continue to develop and evolve in the background, with Stennett confident Newmarket will be in a ‘strong position’ whenever the sport is able to restart.

“Things have had to be postponed and pushed back, but we will still be in a strong position, even if we cannot do anything until next year,” he added.

“We will have a team in the league in 2021 and with the other plans in place, we will be raring to go and are looking forward to it.”

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