Over the last three weekends I have managed to visit Treeton, Cawthorne, Doncaster, Barnsley, Elsecar and Whitley Hall. Whilst not being able to stay in one place as long as we would have in the past, it has certainly made me realise how much I had missed just being able to pop into grounds, chat to old friends and acquaintances and enjoy the cricket. 
At Treeton, we saw Steve Foster make a masterly hundred, and I had a good chat with Keith Haynes – as well as buying some of his magnificent honey; at Cawthorne, we were amazed at the number of spectators who were there for the first league clash with Barnsley, and I caught up with an old friend from Hull, Dick Ollett – a stalwart of the old Fenner club – who was visiting Cawthorne-supporting friends in the area. At Doncaster, we saw an enthralling first innings in which visitors Appleby Frodingham seemed to have got themselves into a winning position before a valuable skipper’s innings by James Ward proved the crucial contribution, and it was great to see former Frod chairman Mike Campion and his team back with us again; at Barnsley, I brought the home side no more luck than I had the week before at Cawthorne, and I caught up with two of our top umpires, Simon Widdup and Duncan Jones afterwards. After the game I spent a very pleasant couple of hours at Woolley, where I had a pint or two with Mark Beardshall and his partner Jayne for the first time this year. Last weekend, our trip to Elsecar was marked by little cricket, but we did get the chance to have a good look at the excellent historical display that James Beachill has had mounted in their pavilion – some great old photos and memories – well worth a look! After the rain had the final say there, we moved on to Whitley Hall, where we saw the first innings and the start of the second before leaving to pick up Kirsty’s mum, who came to stop with us for a few days. We always enjoy our visits to Baxter Field, not just because it is a very hospitable club, but because it is good for photography and we have got some of our favourite shots there. 
A conversation in that last game brings me to my next subject, the recent communications from ECB and YCB about ‘Special Measures’ to be taken against any clubs that transgress the Covid guidelines. I know that some people were not impressed by the tone of the ECB message, but I also understand that in some parts of the country – not South Yorkshire – there have been problems, and the ECB is concerned that cricket could be stopped again. So they have written out to everyone. I keep updated on feedback from our umpires by Simon Widdup, and he tells me that our clubs have done very well in this respect – a couple of minor issues apart – so my message to clubs is simply ‘thank you for your co-operation and keep it up!’ There are only four more match-days to go this season – plus the final at Field Lane on 19 September, so I hope we will get across the line with no significant issues. 
Whilst cricket has been continuing, we have continued to work on the proposed YSPL/SYSCL merger. The response to our consultation with clubs was overwhelmingly positive, and the player survey too produced a majority in favour of going ahead. I have spent a considerable amount of time working through the comments and feedback from these, and have worked up a summary document that can be published, along with our proposals and responses. We agreed on this at this Wednesday’s ‘Merger Working Party’, so I intend to publish it next week. The next stage is to produce the formal proposal, taking into account the feedback, for which I will produce a draft next week. This will be with clubs in plenty of time for the end-of-season EGMs, at which it will be voted upon. At the moment, we do not know what form these meetings will take. For YSPL, I hope that it will be possible to hold a meeting – if not, then a VC by Zoom; but the larger number of clubs in SYSCL may well mean that David and Matt will need to consider alternatives. Meanwhile, we will continue to work on the myriad of different issues that need to be considered and addressed. 
Away from cricket, the most significant development for me has been the decision of our chairman and owner at Hull Kingston Rovers to stand down after this season. I have got to know Neil well over the last six years, and he has done a huge amount for the club, not only in terms of his considerable financial investment, but also his own personal commitment. You might think that all he has done might make him immune from criticism from our ‘keyboard warriors’, but sadly this is not the case. Neil has been in the hot seat for 16 years – only one Rovers chairman has served longer and he did not have to cope with the constant media attention of today. We will be very lucky to find someone else of his calibre to build on what he has done. Meanwhile, it was my privilege to write a tribute to him for the club website. 
In addition to my little sojourn at Woolley, I have now been out for a few beers on a couple of occasions since lockdown. A week last Wednesday,I was in Hull’s Old Town with three of the lads who work for Rovers – we had a most enjoyable afternoon, visiting three pubs and finding sufficiently relaxed atmospheres to allow us to pretty well forget the restrictions we currently live under. On Monday, five of us made our first trip to the Goodmanham Arms since January. It was warm enough to sit outside, and we had a great afternoon, fuelled by first-class real ale! 
Tomorrow, my grand-daughter is coming for a sleep-over, so there will be no cricket, but on Monday we will make the short trip to Brumby Hall for the visit of Doncaster. 
Till next time, 
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