After the loss of all competitive cricket in 2020, Staffordshire county squad, along with the rest of the members of the National County Cricket Association, is preparing for play with the announcement of the proposed fixtures for the 2021 season.
Whether the season will start on the due date or not is still very much up in the air and dependent on Government guidelines due to the ongoing covid situation.
However, it is felt preparations have to be made to enable players and clubs to plan for the future, although it is stressed there may have to be some flexibility dependent on the lifting of travelling bans, playing sport, use of pavilions and, where necessary, any overnight hotel accommodation is required.
To reduce travelling as much as possible, the groups for both the T20 and 50-over competitions have been amended. The championship fixtures remain the same as were intended for the 2020 season which, for the first time, saw the east and west sections split into two divisions.
For Staffordshire, the proposed venues will see them play at Cockermouth for the first time in their history when they travel to play a knock-out trophy fixture game against the renamed Cumbria in June, and they will also be making a first ever appearance at Wem to take on Shropshire in the same competition.
Only one game is scheduled at Knypersley.
T20 group one matches: Sunday, 18th April Shropshire (H) Himley; Sunday, 25th April Cheshire (A) Nantwich; Sunday, 9th May Cumbria (H) Rolleston; Sunday, 23rd May Northumberland (A) South Northumberland; Thursday, 24th June finals day tbc.
Knock-out trophy group one matches: Sunday, 13th June Cumbria (A) Cockermouth; Sunday, 20th June Northumberland (H) Checkley; Sunday, 27th June Shropshire (A) Wem; Sunday, 4th July Cheshire (H) Knypersley; Sunday, 18th July quarter finals; Sunday, 8th August semi-finals; Thursday, 2nd September finals day, Wormsley.
Eastern Division Championship Division One: Sunday, 25th-Tuesday, 27th July, Lincolnshire (H) West Brom Dartmouth; Sunday, 1st-Tuesday, 3rd August, Norfolk (A) Manor Park, Norwich; Sunday, 15th-Tuesday, 17th August, Cambridgeshire (H) Longton; Sunday, 22nd-Tuesday, 24th August, Suffolk (A) Copdock; Sunday, 5th-Wednesday, 8th September championship final, Tring.
At the 148th Staffordshire County Cricket Club annual meeting held on Thursday, 29th January, via Zoom a new secretary was appointed.
Martin Williams replaced Kevin OíConnell, who stood down after three years in the position.
Mr OíConnell was appointed to the General Committee and will continue in his important role as scorer for the county club.
Mr Williams brings a host of experience to the secretarial role having been involved with the countyís youth set-up for many years.
Mrs C Butters was re-appointed as business development manager while other appointments confirmed were David Cartledge as director of cricket; Andrea Leat, membership officer; Allan Smith, of Biddulph, media officer; Ron Nixon, handbook editor, and Richard Harvey as a paid-up member of the committee.
Former captain Kadeer Ali was made a vice-president of the club in recognition of his service.
In recognising the way cricket is developing with the various formats of the game it was agreed that in future the director of cricket would replace the captain on the Selection Committee.
In his review of the 2020 season, decimated by the coronavirus epidemic, the retiring secretary said the county had only played 10 overs of cricket in a washed out T20 friendly against Warwickshire.
The county had declined other offers of friendlies in view of the health risks.
Fixtures and venues for the 2021 season had been announced in the hope a full season of cricket will be played but obviously these were dependent on Government and ECB advice and guidance.
Treasurer Keith Finney said the county had made a profit on the year because with very little cricket played expenditure had been substantially reduced, while grants totalling £14,500 had been received from the ECB through the NCCA and the balance stood at just over £59,000 which was just short of the recognised healthy balance required of £60k.
It was recognised that in the next 12 months there would have to be major changes to the way in which the club operated to bring it in line with the requirements of the new guidelines required by the ECB and NCCA.
The governance procedures would be required to be brought up to date and new rules brought in to meet any new requirements.
There would also be an increased co-operation between the county club and the county board.
All in attendance observed a period of silence in remembrance of members and former players who had passed away in the previous year.