To travel or not to travel is the dilemma facing Stoneywood-Dyce’s overseas amateur in 2021.
Garreth Wolmarans was all set to fly from South Africa to the Granite City to play the summer cricket season for Stoneywood-Dyce before Covid-19 stopped his plans – not to mention club cricket – in its tracks.
The club hope Wolmarans can make the journey for the new season but with the pandemic continuing to affect sport across the world president Jan Stander can offer no guarantees.
For the amateur, the clock is ticking and Stander, who also doubles as coach at the club, hopes there can be a happy ending for Wolmarans.
Stander said: “From a senior perspective everything is on hold. Normally at this time of year we would have an agreement in place for an overseas amateur to come over next summer.
“Garreth, who was supposed to be our overseas amateur last season, spent his own money to buy his ticket. It is valid for 12 months and we’ve told him if the season starts we still want him to be with us but right now we cannot give him a definitive answer that will be the case.
“Looking around the world we’re all waiting for the vaccine but there have been reports only half of the UK will have received it by the end of 2021. I’m not sure where that leaves those who don’t get it.
“I’m always the optimist but I came to realise it didn’t matter how optimistic I was the virus was out there and everything had to be stopped and we’re still playing a waiting game in respect of when we’ll be back playing.”
Stoneywood-Dyce would normally be making plans to return to training after the festive period but it is only the juniors who have been able to play some cricket.
Stander said: “We have had a couple of seasons where we’ve trained all the way through the winter but access to facilities is so limited.
“We normally start in January but at the moment only our juniors has continued training and hats off to the convenors for doing a fantastic job.
“They have 40 kids attending training every Friday which is really encouraging but I have to stress they are at the younger end of the spectrum.
“It’s the one advantage for under-12s. They can gather in bigger numbers but our coaches must follow the guidelines in terms of distancing while parents are not allowed to attend.”
Sourcing suitable facilities to play cricket or even train during the winter is a tough task for any club but when so many centres are unavailable due to the pandemic and Aberdeen being placed in tier three just before Christmas it has become even tougher.
With more restrictive measures being considered to minimise the spread of cases Stander believes having somewhere to train during the winter would make a huge difference to his club.
He said: “It has been encouraging to see so many players so dedicated.
“David Kidd, Jack Lambley and Jamie King have been in the gym three or four times a week so that they can keep their fitness up but David has said even regional training has been affected so who knows what it means for the game in the future.
“We are fortunate that we have coaches at our club but some clubs rely on their pro to lead the sessions.
“If we had a dedicated cricket facility we would have a bit more control. If there was an area we could pick-up or rent which we would be able to convert for indoor nets that would be great but it’s not easy.
“We’ve been working with the airport to move some equipment around. There are a couple of containers which we can move to create some space but really we’re all in a holding pattern right now.”
Cricket, like so many other sports, faces an anxious wait to discover whether their new season will get underway.
April is the month where club cricket historically begins but Stander knows the long break and uncertainty about travelling across Scotland may be a major logistical hurdle for Cricket Scotland and the clubs to navigate.
He said: “We’ve got so many factors to consider ahead of the new season apart from training. There’s the travel implications both locally for the various age groups and teams as well as further afar for matches.
“For example since moving to tier three for example the kids in Aberdeenshire are not permitted to travel to Dyce for development training.
“It’s interesting that so many sports have been affected by this yet it seems one sport which has had some benefit is golf.
“I know of 10 guys at our club alone who have taken up golf on the back of this. Maybe once things settle down they’ll view three and a half hours on a course as a more attractive proposition than fielding for seven hours.”