Sawston & Babraham eager to get started in East Anglian Premier League
After the highs of last season’s promotion, Sawston & Babraham have had to bide their time to be able to reap their rewards.
For a long period since the spring, it looked like recreational cricket would have a year-long hiatus – with resumption not possible until 2021.
However, a sudden about turn by the government that caught most by surprise meant that measures have been put in place to allow the campaign to begin this Saturday (July 25).
“We’ve had to be pretty flexible, it was only a couple of weeks ago at 12pm that Boris (Johnson) said on the radio that there would no cricket because of the teas and changing rooms, then three hours later we all got a message to say we’re back the following week,” said Sawston & Babraham captain Dan Heath.
“It’s been pretty hard to plan. We’ve all tried to keep ourselves fairly fit and ready for this moment but, that being said, a lot of us have worked out that although we might be physically fit, cricket fit is a completely different type of thing. We’ve just tried to do the most we can. Hopefully come Saturday, we will be in the best place we can possibly be.”
It seems a long time ago now, but it was a brilliant summer for Sawston & Babraham in 2019.
They won the Cambs & Hunts Premier League, Division One before then taking victory in two play-off matches to earn a place in the EAPL.
It was a goal achieved ahead of time, but everything that has happened in between has dampened emotions, a bit.
“The enthusiasm is definitely not what it would have been had we had a normal season just purely because everything we had worked for for two years, the pre-season build-up to mid-March, then all of a sudden you’re told you’re not going to have it,” said Heath.
“I think people had resigned themselves to not playing at all.
“It’s great we’re back but as everyone had resigned themselves to not playing, if that had have happened I think people would have accepted it – I don’t think there would have been too many complaints.
“But now we’re back, it’s not taken a lot for everyone to get that togetherness and excitement back. It’s not Premier League cricket as we know it, because the format has been changed somewhat, but it’s still an exciting format.”
Much of the squad has remained the same, although the plans for an overseas player have been scrapped this summer.
Left-arm spinner all-rounder George Darlow, the Bedfordshire vice-captain, has been brought in to boost the squad.
“He is a very smart cricketer, very switched on and I think he will be huge for us,” said Heath.
But Sawston & Babraham look set to have to do without opening bat talisman Matt Hague, who is strandedand unable to get out of Australia.
“They have been very tight with lockdown laws, and he just can’t get out of the country,” said Heath.
“It’s a real shame because he is a massive part of our team, and a massive part of the club as well. He has been at the club a long time and deserves a crack at what we are about to go into – it’s a real shame for him that he won’t get it. But he will next year.
“As disappointing as it is, it’s completely unavoidable.”
Sawston & Babraham are in the south group, along with Bury St Edmunds, Copdock & Old Ipswichian, Frinton-on-Sea, Saffron Walden and Sudbury.
And they start away at Saffron Walden on Saturday.
Heath added: “We are a tight-knit bunch. We’re a big group of mates really which grew over the last year as we had a few new additions and you have to work hard to get together as a group, and we did that.”