THE Mewies Solicitors Craven League is returning this Saturday, and Crossflatts chairman John Patrick says it was a case of now or never for the cricket to return.

There will be no regular league season, or normal cups such as the Wynn Cup, Cowling Cup or Manorlands Plate.

Instead, clubs have been split into seven groups, based on playing standard and geography, and there will be a Covid Cup at stake in each section.

Crossflatts’ first team have been put in Group B alongside Bingley Congs, Haworth, Ingrow, Cowling and Oakworth. Each team will play home and away against one another in 35 overs per side games.

They won Division One at a canter last season, but far from being disappointed at not being able to retain their title, Patrick said Crossflatts are just relieved to have some cricket to play.

He said: “It was definitely a concern the way it (coronavirus) kept going that we’d get to a point where it would have been irrelevant to start.

“If we didn’t get started now, it would have been a waste of time. I know county cricket is starting in August but I don’t think that would have worked (logistically) from an amateur point of view.

“We’d have probably just played a few friendlies instead. We thought there might be no cricket at all so we’re quite happy just to be able to play again.”

This new format was laid out at a league executive meeting at Sutton CC on Monday night and Patrick said: “They had a meeting and the outcome of what the season would look like was what we thought was going to happen.

“We were hoping for a normal season to try and retain our title but we’re keen to win this now.

“In some ways, it's virtually the same thing (in terms of playing the top teams), but obviously we don’t have an overseas player like we did last year.

“We’re still quite confident though and I hope we can win it.

“The team were practicing on Saturday and nobody has said they’re not going to play (over safety concerns). I think everybody’s up for it and is just keen to get going.”

This is Crossflatts’ last season in the Craven League before they move over to the Bradford League, which has also abandoned its regular season in favour of league cups for 2020.

Asked whether this alternative season was not ideal in preparing for Bradford League cricket, Patrick said: “As long as we have some cricket prior to next year that’s the main thing.

“It will be totally different for everyone next year anyway (assuming the virus has subsided).

“We’re looking forward to being in the Bradford League but with us going into Division Three, it might not be a big difference to the standard we’re at now.

“But it will be a whole new ball game with visiting new clubs and we’re hoping to progress through their league system.”