By Ben Fleming
There has been growing confusion following the cancellation of Durham University Cricket Club’s (DUCC) proposed two-day friendly with Durham County Cricket Club with Durham Police suggesting the decision was not made by them.
The friendly, which was due to start on Monday at the Racecourse, was only announced on Sunday but was cancelled the same evening, due to concerns with Covid-19 and spectators.
The statement, via the club’s Twitter and Instagram pages, explained that “due to a recent review of the Covid-19 risks of this cricket fixture, DUCC were contacted today to notify us that this fixture was deemed unsafe in light of Public Health England guidelines.”
It had been planned for the Racecourse to be closed for all members of the public and University for the duration of the match, with the club imploring spectators to “comply” with the guidelines to ensure the game could go ahead.
However, the club noted that, regardless of these measures, “it was [still] suggested that this fixture would attract unnecessarily large crowds, which would pose risks to the resources of the Durham City Police, which have been stretched by Covid-19 regulations.”
Speaking to Palatinate, Club captain Lew Bedford said “it’s a real shame but we are certainly not blaming the police, nor Team Durham, for what has happened.
“At the time when we agreed the fixture, things were given the green light. But, as it has come closer to the game, the police have done a review, I believe, of the week coming up. They have seen this and it was passed upwards to a more senior level at the police department who said it’s too high of a security risk for them to manage alongside the many other things they are doing.”
However, Durham Police, speaking to Palatinate, has stated that “the decision to call off the Cricket match was made by the University – our only involvement was providing Covid security advice.”
Durham University have been approached to comment on the issue but have yet to respond and clarify the issue.
Regardless of the off-field disruption, Lew and the team are remaining positive and are still well underway with pre-season preparations and with other exciting friendlies to come, despite this setback.
“We’re training at the racecourse now which is great, and we’ve got Headingley [against Yorkshire County Cricket Club] on the 3-5th so that’s massively exciting for us. We get to play at a Test ground and against one of the strongest counties in the country so [we’re] very excited for that.”
DUCC has already played one game this pre-season after they were granted elite exemption and allowed to travel down to Worcestershire for a three-day friendly against the County Championship side. The team lost by 228 runs despite having bowled out Worcestershire for just 150 in their first innings.
Durham’s first home game of the season is still set to take place at the Racecourse, on Sunday 11th April, although currently, this will be without spectators in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.