The start of the cricket season in England and Wales has been delayed due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.
The EBC Board has announced that the county season won’t get underway until at least May 28. Officials approved the recommendation to delay the start of the new campaign after discussions with first-class counties, the PCA and the MCC.
It means a seven-week delay is now in place following the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to spread globally. The ongoing crisis has already seen cricket tournaments and international tours postponed.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “During this period of deep uncertainty it is the ECB’s first priority to protect the wellbeing of everyone within the cricket family, from players, to fans and colleagues across the game.
“The decision to delay the start of the season has been essential, given the circumstances the nation faces. I am reassured by the collaborative effort from across the game that together, we will make the very best of whatever length of season we are able to safely schedule in the coming months.”
Plans being made for revised season
Harrison added: “With the information available to us at the moment a delay to the start of the professional cricket season until 28 May was unavoidable.
“This also allows us time to keep pace with a fast-moving situation and continue to plan for how a revised season might look. Critically, we can also remain as flexible and adaptable as possible, within the obvious restrictions we face.
“Securing the future of the game will be a primary focus as we plot a revised schedule with an emphasis on the most financially important forms of the game for the counties across international and domestic cricket.’’
A statement from the ECB also said it was modelling a range of options if the season needed to be started in June, July and August. The immediate focus is on the three-Test series against the West Indies, the Vitality Blast and England Women’s clash with India, all in June.
The organisation also said they are in close liaison with the government and will continue to have discussions about the option of starting the season behind closed doors with live broadcasts. They have also not ruled out the option of reduced versions of competitions if delays go on further.