By Luke Voogt
Cricket will return to Geelong on October 31, with synthetic wicket competitions to begin on November 7, Geelong Cricket Association (GCA) has announced.
The association previously hinted the season could start as early as October 17 or 24.
But GCA president Rob Vines on Wednesday evening said October 31 would give “adequate time for players and officials to be match-ready”.
This included “scope for practice matches to trial and fine-tune COVID protocols”, Mr Vines said.
The start-date was unrelated to the AFL Grand Final being played at night on October 24, he said.
“It’s been a testing time for all of us in preparing for the coming season.
“The board appreciates all [clubs’ efforts] to maintain the health and wellbeing of players, umpires, officials and club members, and to [allow] cricket to be played as close as possible to the game’s traditions within the COVID-normal reality.”
Divisions 1, 2 and 3 will commence on October 31, with 18 playing days plus finals and with two-day matches after Christmas “possible but highly-unlikely”, according to GCA.
One-day competitions will commence on November 7 with 16 matches plus finals.
The use of saliva and sweat to shine the ball is banned, while players and umpires must sanitise their hands and the ball every 10 overs.
Masks are not mandatory for batsmen, fielders and bowlers, but umpires, scorers and spectators over 12 must wear a mask.
Players must bring their own food and drinks, with communal afternoon teas banned, but packaged food and drinks can be served at canteens and bars operating under COVID-19 restrictions
Players must not share gear, keep 1.5m keep apart where possible, avoid huddles and high fives, and minimise time fielding close to an umpire or another player.
The restrictions allow wicketkeepers to field directly behind the stumps.
Download the full COVID-19 Return to Train and Play Plan at cricketvictoria.com.au.