Is the season over?
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Reading all the things that continue to be written about the COVID-19 pandemic it is clear to me that we are unlikely to see any competitive bowling this year in the form that we are set up to operate at. We have absolutely no chance of running a League fixture programme in its current format.
The Government has already indicated that they will be introducing a Over-70s Self-Isolation stage in the programme to counter the virus. They say that will last 10-14 weeks and there isn't even a start date for that yet. It is inconceivable that they will open the doors to any sport until that period has passed. They may not allow sports to restart until much later.
That being the case and say that they introduce the Self-Isolation stage from next Monday (pure speculation of course but we have to start somewhere) and then the clock starts ticking on that 10-14 week timetable.
Ten weeks from next Monday (23 March) takes us to 1 June. Fourteen weeks takes us to 29 June. The half-way point in our season is 30 June so we could run a half-season of fixtures from the beginning of July. That would mean teams in Sections 1 & 2 playing 13 matches. Teams in Sections 3, 4 & 5 would each play 11 matches and teams in Sections A & B of the 6-Man League would play 10 fixtures and Section C teams 9 matches.
That of course means that some teams will have played more home games than some other teams. It hardly seems right that Championship, promotion and relegation issues should be decided on such an imbalance of fixtures favouring some teams over others. The option is there to still play the set fixtures but have no promotion or relegation this year.
Some would say that we could play two fixtures per week to fit in a maximum 26-match programme into 13 weeks. However we have a number of teams that never play in any of our competitions which are not played on usual playing days. This is for a variety of reasons but mainly because they have teams playing in other leagues on those days and their green and bowlers are committed elsewhere. Should they be penalised because of that? Maybe these other leagues will not operate this year because of the problems?
We could possibly run our team knock-out and Individual & Pairs competitions on Mondays and Tuesdays from June or July onwards to provide some bowling. Maybe we could organise some mini-leagues to have a short 10-week season? Maybe we should be looking at a series of friendly matches arranged on an ad-hoc basis by individual clubs.
Is every club going to be ready to start playing matches straight away? Will all the greens be in good order to support competitive bowling? Will all clubs still be in existence in June? Will the financial impact of two months of no income have seen the demise of some clubs. Will clubs know which of their bowlers are in a position to bowl then and be aware of those reluctant to be the first out on the green after the isolation period?
Too many unanswered questions at present to start any sort of reorganisation of our 2020 fixture programme. The announcement of the Self-Isolation start date and duration of it for Over-70s is going to be a significant pointer to any chance that we have of staging any competitive bowling this year. Until then everything else is just speculation.