THE Bolton Cricket League have set two provisional start dates for the new season.

The league executive have pencilled in Saturday, May 30, as a potential opening day with the sporting world currently in shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That would see clubs in the Premier Division and Association have enough time to face each other twice across the campaign.

If May 30 proves to be too soon to get things under way, then the season will be pushed back to July 4 with clubs playing each other just once.

The league have also decided that professionals are not compulsory as part of a plan to help clubs mitigate the financial impact of the season being delayed.

The Hamer and Birtwistle Cup competitions are also not set to take place in 2020.

“The major aim of the Bolton League Executive is to try to ensure our clubs are sustainable over the coming months,” said a statement.

“With this in mind professionals and deputies will not be compulsory for the 2020 season. Clubs wishing to engage a professional must register him with the league by April 30.

“Regarding overseas and UK based professionals, the Bolton League have been in touch with the Lancashire Cricket Foundation, who are already liaising with the ECB and League Cricket Conference and a statement will be made to all leagues and clubs in due course. 

“We will endeavour to assist clubs to make further savings wherever possible.

“The secondary aim is to try and play as much competitive cricket as possible. With this in mind we are looking to start the league programme on Saturday, May 30.

“Over the 16 weekends first teams in the Premier Division will play each other twice, including two Sundays. First teams in the Association Division will play each other twice over 14 Saturdays.

“Should this not be achievable the season will commence on July 4 with clubs playing each other once plus weekend T20 cricket.

“It is hoped the T20 competition can start around the second May bank holiday weekend but it may be necessary to make adjustments to the draw.

“There are no plans at the moment to play the Hamer or Birtwistle Cup competitions.”

The league also outlined their plans for second team and junior cricket.

“In order to make the administration as simple as possible and play as much cricket as possible in the time available, irrespective of where a second team finished last season, their fixtures will have to be the reverse of their first team with a championship play off,” it said.

“Matches will only be played on a Saturday so teams playing opposite the first team Premier Division will only play some opponents once.

“In 2021 second teams will start the season on an even footing. We realise clubs may be struggling for players for a number of reasons. Our preferred option would be for games to take place with fewer than 11 players and reduced overs than not be played at all.

“We will try to play as much junior cricket as possible. It is imperative to keep young players in the game.

“With the evenings drawing in from mid-August some matches will need to take place at weekends. At the moment we are trying to play some matches at all age groups rather than concentrating on one or two age groups. The junior season will begin on Sunday, May 31, or Sunday, July 5.”

Scheduled meetings have also been postponed for the time being.