CRICKET clubs across the borough get the new season under way on Saturday ready for a full summer of action.

After Covid-19 limited clubs to very little game time in 2020, sides are hoping that this campaign will run relatively smoothly as coronavirus restrictions gradually ease in the weeks and months to come.

Radcliffe Cricket Club captain Dene Bowman admits his side’s start to the Greater Manchester Cricket League at Tottington St Johns cannot come soon enough.

He said: “It’s obviously been a really frustrating time.

“We’re all prepped now, the ground’s looking good, we’ve got a few new players in and we’re excited.

“It’s a good competitive league and our first game this weekend is fairly local and they’ve got a good team as well.

“We’re looking forward to it and the lads are all ready for it.”

It’s not just the lack of cricket that has been keenly felt but also the financial impact on clubs largely being shut for the last 12 months.

Bury CC have set up an online fundraiser in a bid to bring in around £10,000.

“Last summer was tough in the main because we weren’t providing cricket for our seniors and juniors,” said vice-chairman Jules Spencer.

“You really feel for the juniors and a lot of what we try and do is about keeping kids active.

“From a financial point of view a lot of our income was hit last year. You can’t expect sponsors to support the club when they are going through difficulties themselves and we’re often not putting a team out on the pitch.

“Last year was our 175th anniversary and we had all kinds of stuff planned and clearly none of that was possible.

“We survived, we’re a small but resilient club and we’ve always cut our cloth accordingly so we were able to ride out some of the impact.”

GMCL clubs played a handful of games at the tail end of the 2020 summer but in a non-competitive environment.

“Last year you were almost just playing for playing’s sake but this year it’s competitive and we want to get promoted to the higher divisions,” said Bowman.

“We’re just really grateful. We’ve been a top side down the years and our first step is to get promotion into Division One.”

Spencer agreed, with Bury opening up at home to Edgworth.

He said: “We did get some cricket towards the back end of last summer which was an achievement in itself as any form of cricket was better than nothing but it’s great to be getting back to competitive action this summer.”

Players will be expected to turn up in their whites ready to play with no changing rooms in operation. Hands and the ball will also be sanitised every six overs.

Spectators are not allowed but those using any outdoor club hospitality are able to watch games while having food and drink.

GMCL Fixtures (all Saturday 12.30pm)

Premier League: Moorside v Prestwich, Woodbank v Roe Green. Premier League 2: Bury v Edgworth, Stand v Walshaw. Championship: Elton v Heaton, Edenfield v Shaw, Swinton Moorside v Brooksbottom. Division One: Prestwich 2nd XI v Denton. Division 2A: Roe Green 2nd XI v Stand 2nd XI, Tottington St Johns v Radcliffe, Irlam v Elton 2nd XI, East Lancs Paper Mill v Worsley.

Lancashire League (Sunday)

Colne v Ramsbottom