Denly hoping for some cricket
Denly hoping for some cricket

Much has been written in recent weeks about the county’s footballers having their respective seasons curtailed. But what about Kent’s club cricketers for whom season 2020 hasn’t yet seen a ball bowled in anger?

KSN has been talking to the new captain of Whitstable Cricket Club whose return to the game has been put on hold…

Former Herne Bay and Hythe Town boss Sam Denly is the new skipper of the Oystermen for their Kent League Division Three campaign for 2020 and, as he told KSN, after his break from football, he’s looking forward to getting back into his whites.

“I’m missing it as I was raring to go cricket-wise!” he admitted to us. “Having this glorious weather, you can’t help but think that we should have been playing the last couple of weekends. It makes it even harder… it’s all very frustrating to say the least!”

“There’s a rumour going round about the first of July – the League have said that they want to start on that date. Now whether we start on that date or sometime in July, no one really knows – we’re in limbo at the moment!”

“I’m going to be an optimist – yes I do think we might get some play in!” Sam enthused, but then added, “I think it’s about seventy percent “no” and thirty percent “yes”, but I’m gearing towards playing – you’ve got to have a positive mindset; we’re all desperate to get out there but at the same time, I think you’ve got to be realistic that there are far more important things at the moment than a game of sport with people still losing their lives!”

“For me maybe like everyone else, I’m concerned that we may have come out of Lockdown a bit early and we may find ourselves back in it within a couple of weeks – I hope I’m wrong.”

“If we don’t and things progress fairly quickly, I have feeling that there’s an outside chance that we’ll get some cricket, but I’m not holding my breath!”

“I think everyone’s priority in the sporting world at the moment is the football and the Premier League and how they’re going to get going.”

“But for all the club cricketers out there, it’s really frustrating as you see all the nice weather we’ve been having and all we want to do is be in the middle playing! And let’s be honest, the football season is a long old season and after being heavily involved in it for a long time, it takes a long time for the cricket season to come back round.”

“If we do miss a full season now, it’s going to make it a long wait for summer 2021 to come round that’s for sure!”

Whitstable have an illustrious history in Kent cricket – one that Sam is eager to build on as he told us, “The club has struggled over the past few years to be fair, which is why we’re in Division Three, which breaks my heart to be honest – it’s been a hard few years for the club and we were actually looking very good this year.”

“We’ve got players returning; we’ve been training indoors since September in Canterbury; we had an overseas (player) sorted; we had a few new signings – it was really looking up!”

“The club have had a couple of really difficult seasons off the pitch but we’re turning that round! We’ve got a new committee and the club really is looking strong now, and it’s very frustrating like it is for all other clubs.”

“There’s been a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes to try and get us back to where I think we should be – which is I think, Division One – we’ve always been a Division One club flirting with the Premier League – and that’s where we want to get back to.”

“It won’t happen overnight, we know that, but we’re making good strides to get there. So, this current climate is certainly not helping matters…”

“As I said before, we’ve done a lot behind the scenes this year. We’ve done a lot with the bar so it’s always hired out so we’re sound financially, but whilst we don’t have the outgoings in the terms of player budgets like a football club has, but we still run almost by what we take behind the bar – we hold functions every week and were booked solid all summer.”

“So, we heavily rely on that for source of income and obviously given the current situation, that’s dried up and will continue to be dry! But it depends, how long it all goes on for.”

“We’ve still got to run and so we can’t carry on forever at this rate, we’re hopeful that things will change. We’ve got a grant – a lot of clubs have applied for them, which we’ve got which is good for us – and it helps, but it is concerning times for us like I’m sure it is for every other club – cricket clubs, football clubs, hockey clubs, tennis clubs – we’re all in the same boat; you all need some source of income wherever that comes from, and at the moment, no-ones getting any.”

“It is slightly concerning but short term wise certainly for the foreseeable, we’re OK!”

Sam’s brother Joe is of course currently in the England Test squad, and this week, it has emerged that the ECB are the latest sport looking to restart behind “closed doors”!

“I really don’t know the answer,” Sam admitted. “It’s going to be hard for the players I’m sure as they’re used to playing in front of big crowds which is part of it now.”

“Football, cricket it’s all the same – it’s like an event – so to have no-one there behind closed doors is going to be very, very odd, and I can only hope that that doesn’t happen, but if they want to play cricket and it has to be without any watching then so be it I guess!”