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COVID Cricket in Jersey – Matt French

As the spring turned into summer the chance of getting any cricket in England in 2020 was becoming more and more remote. So desperate was I to get some cricket this year I decided to look further afield for possibilities of umpiring.

I considered Guernsey as they started their season at the beginning of June but they had ensured all their borders were closed to the outside world so that ruled it out for me. So, I then contacted my Jersey colleague, Heath Kearns, and asked about possibilities there, he put me in contact with the umpire’s appointments officer who was able to offer me four games over the weekend 18 – 19 July.

The next hurdle to overcome was getting accommodation and flights, and I must give credit to Graham Irwin for assisting with the booking, ensuring that all the paperwork that is required when travelling during this pandemic was completed correctly. The trip over was easy; with fewer people travelling, it was nice to have the train and plane to myself and, once I got used to it, wearing the face mask it wasn’t that much of a big deal.

The two Saturday matches were played at Grainville Cricket Club, in easy walking distance from my hotel, so, although all up hill, it did give me the opportunity to clock up some miles towards the 9463 Challenge that we have all been set by the First Class umpires who have been walking from Lahore to Manchester and back for three charities: The Cricketers’ Trust, Prostate Cancer and The British Asian Trust. They have until the end of July to complete this, and we have been set the same challenge by the end of August.

Grainville Cricket Club is the main ground on Jersey, and has hosted many international games including the World League final in 2008 when Jersey played Afghanistan, which was the prelude to the future success of the Afghan team. The matches were both Premier League, played in coloured clothing with white ball. They were good standard and the COVID-19 regulations are not as strict as they are in England, so the games were more “normal”. The main differences were that the umpires had to sanitise the ball after every over, and the players were expected to sanitise every 10 overs. We also, as in mainland UK, were unable to use the changing rooms.

The first match was between Walkovers and St Ouen, St Ouen won the toss and set a score of 118 for 5 off their 20 overs, Walkovers managed to just get over the line with three wickets in hand, their first win of the season… they are called “Walkovers” for a reason!

The second game was Walkovers again, this time against Old Victorians, a side made up of old boys from Victoria College, which is the oldest independent school on the island, built in 1852. OVs won the toss and batted first, former Sussex and Sussex League player, Jonty Jenner, was playing for OVs and looked in good form, making a few clean hits before being bowled by a great in-swinging delivery. OVs finished on 141/6 off their 20 overs. This score was simply too high for Walkovers, and they ended up with 112 all out with four balls remaining in the innings.

Sunday’s matches were at the FB Fields, named after Florence Boot who came from Jersey and married Jesse Boot of Boots the Chemist. It has a very impressive pavilion and I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to look round it as I’m sure it would have been very interesting and full of cricketing memorabilia. These games were Division 1 matches, which are all club’s 2nd XIs. These are all red ball matches with white clothing, in contrast to the Saturday games.

St Ouen 2nd XI were playing OVs 2nd XI in the first match. OVs won the toss and batted first, and made a huge score of 220 for 7, with the opening batsman making 86 after being dropped twice when in the 20s. This score was far too much for St Ouen and they ended up 100 runs short of the target.

In the second match, St Ouen 2ndXI played Walkovers 2nd XI. St Ouen batted first and made a decent score of 121 for 6 from their 20 overs. Walkovers had depth in their batting and, although they lost wickets early, they were able to get the winning runs in the sixteenth over, which meant that they had won the league on run rate.

Overall, I very much enjoyed my weekend in Jersey, and although, thanks to Boris’s U-turn, they weren’t the only games I umpired in 2020, but if they had been, they would have been worth it.

Go well everyone – Stay safe

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