SUNDAY’S Black Rat Cricket Festival, a blue-riband event of the Upper Airedale Junior Association which is hosted by Skipton and Skipton CI, has been cancelled due to rising Covid-19 infection rates.

The showcase event – only the UAJCA’s cup finals match it for prominence – would have involved 240 youngsters in various age groups.

In an e-mail to UAJCA secretary Terry Thompson, Skipton CC’s junior league representative Gary Owens explained: “It is with great sadness that the Skipton CC committee has taken the tough decision to cancel the 2021 Black Rat Cricket UAJCA six-a-side festival this coming weekend.

“With issues going on with Covid, the majority of the committee have deemed there are still some risk areas that would make the event unfeasible.

“I fully appreciate this will be somewhat disappointing to many of you, your clubs, players and parents. I share that disappointment, but it’s also my role to pass on the committee decision, and I ask (that) you accept it given the peculiar times we currently live in.

“There has been a huge amount of work done already to get it on, and I can assure you this was not a decision taken lightly.

“I expect no barriers to be in place for holding next year’s festival, when we can welcome everyone back to fully enjoy the “cricket-picnic”-in-the-fun atmosphere in which it should be played.”

Thompson stated: “Despite Government relaxation of lockdown (indoor weddings), the planned safety procedures, hygiene regulations and social-distancing protocols are viewed by the Skipton CC committee as insufficient to prevent infection in light of rising numbers of cases of the Delta Variant across the UK.

“UAJCA respects the prerogative of Skipton Cricket Club and confirms its policy expressing sympathetic response to the need for clubs to exercise their own protocols during the pandemic.”