How Exmouth Cricket Club has changed for the better during the pandemic | Opinion

  Posted: 27.08.21 at 09:00 by Councillor Bruce de Saram (Exmouth Littleham Ward)

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Over this lockdown period, we have all seen that outdoor sports have suffered due to the various Covid restrictions.

I am going to write this article about something positive and exciting for the local Exmouth community that has come out of the lockdown for the Exmouth Cricket Club.

Our draft EDDC (East Devon District Council) Council Plan for 2021-23 identifies health and the community as one of its strategic objectives, specifically at point 9.8.8 “Promoting health and wellbeing including healthy lifestyles, physical activity and good mental health including increasing leisure opportunities”.

Readers may not be aware that the district council is its landlord, having granted the club a lease which currently runs for at least another 11 or 12 years.

The early days of the pandemic

If we rewind to the earlier time of the pandemic, the rules in place were such that all cricket clubs had to make changes to their rules and the way the game was played and viewed.

New-look clubhouse and balcony

A couple of examples show this firstly from the adapted play rules, which involved players turning up changed, not using changing rooms and secondly, the much-anticipated cricket tea provided by the Exmouth Tea Hut had to be abandoned for the season, in favour of players bringing their own food.

All of this meant that local cricket as we know it was struggling to be played in its traditional format, with spectator numbers also greatly reduced.

This was not a great time for such outdoor sports activities.

Modernising the club

Exmouth Cricket Club came up with an idea which involved modernising the Club itself so that more spectators, players and visitors would then be able to enjoy the game by making much better use of the footprint of the actual clubhouse.

They were fortunate to have had a legacy passed on to them a few years ago which provided the much-required funding to make these changes.

A new bar, patio

Firstly, they opened a new bar outside run by Phil Brenton and his family on the newly created patio area so that members and guests would not have to climb up the outside metal stairs into the clubhouse itself, which is a great new feature in line with both Covid regulations and health and safety.

By making these improvements it also meant that the result is that there is now better access for disabled people to enjoy and watch cricket in their local club.

Inside the clubhouse

Secondly, they modernised the interior of the building itself and then added a balcony which now allows spectators to look out and enjoy fabulous views of the game.

As readers may be aware, this ground enjoys the best views of any cricket club over the Maer and out towards the sea. As their local ward member, I was kept informed by both our planning and licensing departments of all these changes to the building, which is a good example of how the council and the community do communicate with one another.

Club Chair Dicky Davies recently said to me: “It was an absolutely fantastic win-win situation for all concerned from the start to finish as we put both the players, spectators, and visitors at the heart of what we do for cricket and the community.”

Drop by when a match is on – or play

As we are now in late August, nearing the end of the playing season I would encourage all readers to go along and visit the Club when a home match is on and see for yourself these wonderful new features I have described.

In fact, Dicky mentioned that the club has, despite Covid, had a very good season although the First team has not done as well as hoped, but he is really delighted with the Colts team results.

If you pop down and you are feeling hungry and want a snack, then you can also get one at the well-established nearby Tea Hut run by Lucy Davies, his wife.

For ladies, the Club has recently introduced Ladies training on Thursday nights. On Friday nights, weather permitting, there is Colts training which is a supervised session for younger children.

The best thing is that parents able to drop by and at the same time enjoy the bar facilities whilst watching their children learn to play cricket in a safe supervised setting.

An example of a positive step for the community

This is so positive for the health and wellbeing of the community. In fact, the Club has been so successful that the Royal Marines are looking to re-locate their cricket team to this venue, the Exmouth Tri-Hards have used this facility as well as the Fleet Air Arm for their own 20/20 competition.

So, to conclude, this is an example in my ward of Littleham of the type of opportunity which is what the council is referring to in its Council Plan so that healthy lifestyles are put at the centre of what is good about our East Devon community.

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