The world of cricket has almost forgotten what life without coronavirus restrictions is like: no saliva on the ball, the loss of community togetherness and most importantly there was no tea break.
Grassroots cricket provides a social community for many players and spectators, something the pandemic stripped everyone of.
To mark its return, SWL spoke to the cricket director at Wimbledon CC, Jonathan Speller, about what he was most looking forward to returning.
He laughed: “It is going to be amazing, my membership now includes teas again.
“We have had two years to plan and structure what goes into a tea.
“Without quoting the guys from Sanderstead YouTube channel, there is going to be lots of crunch!”
Teas and crunch aside, Covid also provided an administrative challenge for the club with the constant changes in the rules and restrictions.
Speller, 37, said: “Cricket was quite slow with sending out guidance on a return but once it did, it was clear and concise, and we were able to act quite quickly.
“At Wimbledon, we were able to go from the day the guidance was released.
“The extra administration turned into a few days and sleepless evenings, but we are lucky at the club that I am a full-time employee, so we were able to turn that around.
“The ability to freely offer cricket excites me, we have got so many new talented cricketers.”
Many thought it would be a challenge to bring people back to the sport after two years of instability.
However, Wimbledon has actually seen a huge uptake in people wanting to play the sport, resulting in the club entering into more cups than before.
Speller also mentioned he doesn’t think cricket has lost a great deal to the coronavirus pandemic.
He added: “I wonder if cricket hasn’t only gained from this.
“If there’s things that we have lost to the pandemic, it’s because we have had a great period of reflection.
“There are a lot of little inclusions that actually needed a global pandemic for us to look ourselves in the mirror and say is this right?
“I think cricket has everything to gain now.”
Speller and the club can now move back to their long-term plans, which include building on cricket’s bright future after the success of The Hundred.
A new 100-ball format of the sport tasked with attracting a younger and more diverse audience, the Hundred launched last summer.
Using this newfound energy is vital in continuing people’s enthusiasm for cricket and getting them to return to and take up the sport.
Featured image credit: Alec Turner