Byes in round one for Eaton Socon and Kimbolton as clubs find out National Village Cup fate

Eaton Socon Cricket Club celebrate

Jon Carpenter celebrates a wicket as Eaton Socon beat Liphook & Ripsley in the 2020 National Village Cup. - Credit: SIMON COOPER

Eaton Socon will look to go two better than last year's quarter-final appearance when their National Village Cup exploits for 2021 get under way in May.

The Peppercorns Lane-based cricket club battled through numerous rounds before coming unstuck away to Redbourn of Hertfordshire in the last eight.

Usually held in the committee room at Lords, the remote draw saw them avoid a place in the first round of the Cambs & Norfolk section, entering the competition in round two with a home game on Sunday, May 9, against Hethersett & Tas Valley.

Kimbolton too have been given a bye in round one, their first game away to Fordham, north of Newmarket.

Redbourn made it all the way to the final last year, losing by just six runs in a thrilling contest to Colwall of Herefordshire.

In total 347 clubs across the country will compete in the 2021 tournament, the 50th edition of the competition. 

It is the highest number of entries for more than a decade and "reflects club cricket’s desire to get back on the field after a disrupted 2020 season" according to organisers. 

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The first of the national rounds is planned for June 20 with the Lords final on September 19. 

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) meanwhile have issued some guidance for clubs excited for the return of the game. 

Under the government's roadmap out of lockdown, grassroots team sports can return from March 29 and the governing body says any plans club have should ideally wait until then. 

They said: "We continue to work closely with DCMS and the government to ensure cricket plays it’s part in ensuring the safe opening up of society. 

"As we finalise our guidance, which will be shared with you all shortly, we understand that some of you have asked questions on what activity is permissible at the moment. 

"One-to-one coaching sessions will not be allowed as sports venues, including cricket facilities, must remain closed as instructed by the government until at least March 29, subject to review. 

"Grounds maintenance should be limited to essential preparation tasks with essential staff only. 

"When the rule of six applies, then sub-grouped working parties would be more appropriate."