Bury St Edmunds’ T20 cup chances hit for six
BURY St Edmunds Cricket Club’s chances of success in a national cup competition have been hit for six.
After winning the regional rounds the Suffolk side have qualified for the South East Area semi-finals of the ECB National Club T20 competition, which culminates in a finals day at Test match venue Edgbaston and is covered live on Sky TV.
But the scheduled date of the tie against the Middlesex County League winners, and also a possible final against the Home Counties Premier League or Essex Premier League winners on the same day, clashes with the start of Suffolk’s three-day Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division fixture against Staffordshire at Knypersley on Sunday, August 5.
The Bury St Edmunds side contains five players - Justin Bishop, Tom Huggins, Sasha Ward, Simon Rees and Tom Rash - who have regularly featured for Suffolk so far this season, leaving the club facing the prospect of fielding a much-weakened side in the competition.
Four of them - Bishop, Huggins, Rees and Rash - even sent letters to the ECB to see if the date can be changed.
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Former Bury St Edmunds captain and current Suffolk skipper Bishop said: “We have played really well in the competition this season and fancied our chances.
“We have been told that because of the backlog of fixtures due to the wet weather that the ECB are not able to change the date.
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“If the date can’t be changed we would all put playing for the county first and Bury would have to field an under-strength side.
“We are all gutted about the possibility of not playing in the competition, especially as the finals day is televised live and the winners get to go to La Manga as part of their prize.”
Andy Abbott, who is secretary of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, the organisers of the regional rounds, said that he had twice written to the ECB, who had also been contacted by Suffolk secretary Toby Pound asking if the date could be switched.
Abbott said: “They wrote back the first time and said they could not change the date. I then sent them copies of the emails I received from four Bury players and have not had a reply back.
“I have some sympathy with the players because it is a competition for the players and a day out at Edgbaston is the goal. It put them in an invidious position.”
Paul Bedford, who is head of cricket operations (non first-class) at the ECB, said it was not possible to change the date because other clubs are involved in their own county cups as well as the ECB National Club T20 competition.
He explained the finals day at Edgbaston on September 6 is three weeks earlier than the normal Sky finals date because after the England versus South Africa series concludes with the third T20 match, the ICC T20 World Cup is taking place in Sri Lanka.
“We are very pleased that Sky’s coverage extends to covering club cricket and the final of this competition, which two years ago was held at the Rose Bowl and last season at Chelmsford.
“We have every sympathy with Bury St Edmunds, but if you looked across the country I don’t believe there would be another club with five Minor County players in their side,” he said.