ONLY a ‘handful’ of clubs in Oxfordshire have had their existence thrown into doubt by the coronavirus lockdown.

The suspension of cricket saw income streams dry up for grassroots teams across the country, causing grave fears for their futures.

A return to competitive action is still several weeks away, with clubs currently only allowed to train in small groups under the England & Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) roadmap for the return of the recreational game.

It is being reported that adapted matches could return as soon as

mid-July if the government relaxes the two-metre social distancing measure today.

This suggest clubs could be through the worst of the lockdown and Oxfordshire Cricket’s participation and growth manager Ashley Rump revealed the majority have kept their heads above water.

He said: “In general, clubs have found ways to show they’re still sufficient.

“Some have found themselves in tricky situations and come to us for advice and we’ve helped them.

“A handful of clubs, although they had reserves in the bank, had committed those to certain pieces of work and a sum of money that was going to run out.

“Thankfully that red group has never made it into double figures.”

Earlier this month, Banbury chairman Martin Phillips revealed his club could be financially worse off if cricket returned this summer due to the cost of playing matches.

This was among a series of concerns raised by the chief of the Home Counties Premier League Division 1 side, along with retaining the interest of players and coaches.

Clubs have been helped out by funding streams including grants distributed by local authorities and Sport England, an interest-free loan from the ECB or a last-resort return to cricket fund.

Meanwhile, the sport’s governing body last week approved a £35.7m financial support package for the professional and recreational game – £5.5m of which will be on offer to county cricket boards from August 1.

It will boost clubs who have been on the backfoot for months, after the pandemic hit at the worst possible time.

“This all struck when clubs were starting to release their memberships for the year so a number of clubs weren’t getting that initial injection of cash,” Rump said.

“A cricket club is effectively a volunteer-run club but it’s still a business.

“During this crisis it’s brought that much more to the fore.

“The big thing is making sure clubs are still here into next season.”