JUST a few weeks ago Lithgow cricketers were uncertain as to whether they'd be stepping out onto the pitch this season or not.
But with easing COVID restrictions and increased vaccination rates, teams are preparing to commence their regular season on November 6.
Lithgow District Cricket Association (LDCA) secretary Matthew Tuxford said competition was starting a "little bit later" than they would have otherwise, but he looked forward to playing again.
"We're all very keen to get out there, going back a few weeks ago we weren't even sure if we'd get a 2021/22 season in," he said.
He said LDCA also had a COVID safe plan in action, as required by Cricket NSW guidelines.
"All the clubs have been required to submit a COVID plan which covers their training facilities and their match day protocols and our association also has a COVID plan in place," he said.
He said under current guidelines all players must be double vaccinated to play.
"...and that will be checked through QR codes for training facilities and match day check ins," he said.
"It's expected as the state opens up unvaccinated people will be able to play but we will continue to follow advice from Cricket NSW."
Tuxford said he never thought there'd be a day where you'd have to show proof of vaccination to get onto a cricket pitch, but he was grateful to play.
"It's the way of the world at the moment, it's just the way it has to be and if we want to be responsible members of our community we need to follow responsible policies, and have them in place and be able to enforce them," he said.
It's the way of the world at the moment, it's just the way it has to be...LDCA secretary Matthew Tuxford
"It's not just for us but also our spectators, family and friends like to come along we also have sponsors we need to consider, we're taking the most responsible actions we can to safeguard all stakeholders in the cricket community," he said.
President Danny Whitty said COVID had "kicked LDCA in the guts".
"It's been tough but we're doing the right thing as per the government guidelines," he said.
Tuxford said a T20 competition will also be running alongside their regular competition and is scheduled for November 26.
"T20 to start with will run on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings to try and get a number of games out of the way and to leave potential Sundays in the New Year for catch up games if we get a very wet season," he said.
"But hopefully without washouts it will just be Fridays post the Christmas break."
He said the association was running one standard grade for the season and would break out at finals times.
"We'll separate grades bases on positions on the ladder," he said.
The competition will field six teams including Lithgow Cougars, Lithgow Houso's, Portland, Hampton, Lithgow Valley Cricket Club and La Salle Hornets.
"We're probably down a little bit on registrations this year due to COVID but we do have players from all different ages, we've pretty much covered the spectrum," Tuxford said.
"There's some young good juniors that play in the senior competition and we've got a few players around the 70 year-old mark."
LDCA also has plans to give its players more opportunities this season after having the Baggy Blues Tour earlier in 2021.
"Again thanks to Sonia Cox who moved heaven and earth to get them here, we'd like to do something like that again," Whitty said.
"It helps to open eyes to a lot of people, those blokes who have the guts to open up and talk about mental health. Being out in sport starts a conversation," he said.
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