IT has been a far from ideal start to Stuart Butt’s reign as 1st XI captain at Bridgwater Cricket Club.

Butt has succeeded Andrew Hallaran as skipper, only to see all recreational cricket in England suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With Bridgwater set to play in Premier 1 of the West of England Premier League this year, the team had been hard at work preparing for the season.

Butt said: “I’ve been really looking forward to [taking the captaincy], so it’s unfortunate how it’s turned out.

“We were a large way through our pre-season, having started in February.

“It was a good pre-season, so it’s tough on the guys who had put the work in, but in the grand scheme of things there’s a bigger picture to worry about.”

There’s more to cricket than the senior men’s game, of course, which Butt is well aware of as Bridgwater’s women’s and girls coordinator, and a youth coach.

“I help run sessions for junior players, and they’ve been superb and showed great effort,” he said.

“So to have this halt to their progress is very difficult for them.

“Our women’s team were due to go out for some fitness training, bowling and batting at the start of April.

“But that’s not going to happen now, which is pretty disappointing.”

Away from the playing aspect, Butt said that the groundstaff had been able to put together a rota, allowing them to keep the ground in good condition while only having one person working on it at any one time.

Other things are less easy to compensate for, however.

“Our bar is our biggest resource - our 1st XI are well supported on Saturdays, with 100 to 250 fans and sponsors down at the ground,” Butt said.

“So that will have an impact, but every club is in the same boat.

“Our player subscriptions have been held over, but some have generously donated money to the club.”

Looking ahead, Butt added: “I’m hopeful, but if I’m honest I can’t really see [the WEPL league season] happening.

“If any cricket is played, it might be a T20 league - like the National Club T20 format with three teams at one venue - which would allow for a short, condensed season.

“Or we just play everyone in our league once.

“It’d be a lottery in terms of playing four or five home games, but at that point I think everyone would be happy just to play.”

Since this interviews was conducted, the England & Wales Cricket Board has announced a £20 million package to support recreational cricket - read more about that here.