WOODLANDS secretary Brian Pearson has no issue with other teams playing some form of Bradford League cricket this year, but firmly stands by his club’s decision to pull out.

The season gets underway tomorrow, with League Cups, and then T20 cups from Sunday.

Woodlands, who won both the Bradford League Premier Division and the Priestley Cup in 2019, won’t be playing in either competition, citing health and safety concerns.

Pearson stated that the club will be using their free time wisely to relay their outfield over the winter, and said that while some players have gone elsewhere temporarily, he expects the 2021 squad to be the same as the successful 2019 one.

Discussing the club’s decision to withdraw from the 2020 season, which they announced last week, he said: “We made the decision on health and safety grounds, as we didn’t feel we could take the risk.

“I’ve followed coronavirus avidly since its inception. I’ve listened to both the scientists and also the government, from a political side.

“We moved from two metres (social distancing) to one metre recently and in my view, this was not just so we could all start playing cricket, it was for the economy.

“The ECB did a good job in persuading the government to allow recreational cricket to come back but Stage Four (adapted gameplay with strict coronavirus guidelines) is not full competitive cricket.

“There’s a lot of rules and regulations to abide by and many risks to overcome. We believe overall those risks are too great to take on, with all that’s required to put on a game of cricket at the moment.

“We’ve also cancelled our junior programme on health and safety grounds.

“The (Bradford League) Board have worked tirelessly to deliver the new fixtures but also accept our position.

“I do understand the views of others too, as you have players who are keen to play and some clubs need revenue through the bar.

“But overall, we just felt health and safety overrode that. Covid-19 is still out there and Bradford is one of the areas where it’s still prevalent.”

Pearson added: “It was never going to be competitive cricket in my view, with us not playing Stage Five (unrestricted gameplay and formats, with no social distancing).

“We knew we couldn’t play for the Bradford League or Priestley Cup from the start of July.

“They’re playing for Gordon Rigg trophies in each League Cup, which will hopefully finish on September 19.

“I know the Aire-Wharfe League are going until September 26, which might be a bit of a struggle, as really you need to be looking at ground refurbishments from mid to late September.”

And that is what Woodlands are planning already, with Pearson saying: “We’re hoping to relay the outfield this winter and I’m currently working with the ECB to help fund it.

“That would involve removing the top surface of the outfield and relaying it level, getting rid of all the bumps and putting a layer of soil on top, which will improve our facilities.

“The contractor says that if we can start in August, the grass should have grown and would be ready in time for the new season.”

And Pearson is confident about the new season in 2021, with some of the club’s players getting the chance to compete ahead of that anyway.

He said: “Some of our players have gone to play for other clubs (this season) but nobody’s leaving.

“They’ll play six to eight games in another team but then come back to play here.

“If they’re going to other leagues, it has to be a transfer, so two players have done that but we’ve done a deal which means they’ll re-sign for us, and the rest have gone to Bradford League clubs, via the loan system that’s in place.

“All being well, we’ll have the same side for 2021, including our star overseas player, Brad Schmulian, who’s said he’s coming back.”