South Wilts have welcomed the revised guidelines issued by the England & Wales Cricket Board, which enables them to begin organising proper training sessions for seniors and the club’s huge junior section, despite the fact it is unlikely there will be any games staged until August 1, at the earliest.

Within hours of the ECB’s announcement late last week, South Wilts held a virtual committee meeting, which gave the green light for sessions to commence under the strict social distancing regulations in force.

While training is allowed to return, the recreational game remains suspended for at least another seven weeks.

Chairman Rob Wade said: “We have a few bits to organise before we can start properly, but I’d like to think we will be out there fairly soon.”

He added that the one-to-one coaching sessions in the last few weeks had proved a success.

But Wade stressed the South Wilts’ disappointment at the apparent slowness for the relaxation of lockdown changes to filter through to club cricket.

He pointed out that “It was fully eight days since the Government announced an easing of the lockdown and that groups of six would be allowed to exercise with social distancing.

“The Government specifically mentioned cricket and that control of individual sports would be passed back to governing bodies.

“In the last week we have faced questions from our members as to why they cannot now practice in groups and we really did not have an adequate answer.

“Then, finally, last Friday the ECB released their new guidelines and surprisingly enough groups of six are to be be allowed to practise with social distancing!”

The South Wilts chairman added that he was “disappointed at the lack of information being passed down from Lord’s”.

He said: “We discussed last week the expected announcement and so we are pleased now that it is finally confirmed.

“We are pleased that after eight days the news has been passed on to recreational cricket.

“However, there is no update on the return to playing adult cricket matches - positive or negative.

“We know discussions are ongoing, we know a successful T20 trial game has taken place (in Guernsey), but still not a word to the clubs or the players.

“We think that the original estimate of early July seems like an accurate one and we look forward to playing in July, August and September”.

If club cricket does get the go-ahead to resume on August 1 – and there’s no guarantee of that - it will leave only five of the 18 Saturdays in which to play any meaningful matches.

By then, three-quarters of the Southern Premier and Hampshire League seasons will have been wiped out, leaving many cash strapped clubs in fear of players walking away from the game to follow other pursuits.

There will be no promotions or relegations throughout the Hampshire recreational pyramid and this year’s divisional structures will remain unchanged until 2021.

The ECB have made clear that, if the recreational game is to return at any point in 2020, it will have to be done using a phased approach and in keeping with government guidelines.

Both the SPL and HCL are committed to supporting clubs in providing some level of cricket, if and when it is permitted.

Insofar as the Southern Premier League is concerned, that could mean mini-50-over leagues or T20 matches in August and early September, with the Hampshire League teams playing friendly games between themselves.

Local cricketers are taking full advantage of the relaxation of the lockdown regulations now that six people can attend practice nets and coaching and general group activity.

South Wilts are among the Premier League clubs who have reported significant player turn-outs at training sessions, with social distancing strictly applied.

“We’ve had six weeks of inactivity and guys want to get out there and play proper 11-a-side cricket,” said SW spin all-rounder James Hayward.

“We’re all fully aware of the regulations and can adapt accordingly, as Guernsey did with their successful T20 trial the weekend before last.”

“It is vital we start sooner than later as virtually every club is facing serious financial problems due to the absence of games.”

It is believed Premier Leagues across the country are pressurising the ECB for a July resumption, but as things stand no 11-a-side matches can be played until August 1, at the earliest.

The ECB, though, is continuing to make representations to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to explore ways in which cricket at the recreational level can be made safe and possible in these difficult times.