KEIGHLEY Cricket Club chairman Paul Barker is a little downbeat that the Bradford League season has not turned out like he’d hoped, but thinks the club can use the new League Cups and T20 Cups to build a platform for 2021.

There is no regular league season due to coronavirus, and even though Keighley are back in action, they have also been shorn of two of their star signings.

Barker said: "With all the transfers we made over the winter, we were in a great position and could have pushed for that top two (in Championship One). It's disappointing but what can you do?

"Our overseas player, Inzamam's son Muhammad-ul-Haq, is stranded in Pakistan. He's fine and safe and we are in touch with him.

"His dad recalled him when the coronavirus stuff started but it's worse there now, so he's stuck there for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we'll have him with us next year.

"Richard Robinson was our other big signing, but he can't play either as he wasn't furloughed by Yorkshire CCC, so he's had to up the workload he had there.

"So that's two of our best players who are missing."

As for those who are here, they started the season with a pair of defeats at the weekend, by one wicket to Pudsey Congs in the League Cup and by six wickets to Bradford & Bingley in the T20 Cup.

Barker said: "We were 50-6 at Pudsey Congs before Paul Quinlan came in and played a good knock, then all the bowlers bowled well like Paul and Jamie Wilmshurst.

"We had three second teamers playing and we were carrying another three the following day against Bradford & Bingley.

"They're a division above us and had a full team out too. Johnny Wilkinson batted well but in that competition, it's a case of who can hit it further and they had bigger hitters than us."

But there are positives to take for Keighley, both from those games and the local cricket scene continuing to go from strength to strength.

Barker said: "Grassroots is so important for this club.

"If you look at the teams we had out over the weekend, you've got the likes of Dillon Birkett, Nathan Storton, Louis Horsfield and a few more playing who are just Keighley through and through.

"We're lucky to have that and then you had Raees Hussain in the first team at the weekend, who's just 16.

"We've also got an under-nine team playing Bradford League cricket this year and under-11s playing Bradford and Aire-Wharfe cricket.

"It's six weeks of compact cricket for them too. My nine-year-old son is in all three teams and he's loving it as it's something to do after a harsh lockdown."

Addressing the lockdown and the sport's comeback, Barker said: "It is at least some form of cricket that we've got now, even though it's effectively friendlies, and the Bradford League had contingency plans in place from February, as they had a good idea this could happen.

"It is frustrating and very difficult having to adapt. There's no use of the changing rooms, except the toilets, so the players have to come in their whites.

"The umpires control the game, so you can't touch the wickets, the ball is cleaned every six overs and you have to sanitise regularly.

"I do think cricket has been harshly treated, certainly when you look at the Premier League football being back, as that's a full contact sport.

"But it seems the government are running scared of the ball at the moment."

Giving some final thoughts, Barker said: "The Aire-Wharfe League are playing league competition and us not doing so might have been the catalyst for the five teams that have dropped out to do so.

"But we're hoping for a full season in 2021. We're alright but other teams are struggling, and we don't want coronavirus to be the death of local cricket."