Start of English domestic cricket season delayed to August
There has been a further delay to the start of the postponed English domestic cricket season, now pushed back until 1 August at the earliest.
The season was originally due to start on 12 April, but was then first pushed back to 28 May as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the UK.
It was then delayed further, until 1 July, as the pandemic continued to rage, and now the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that no county fixtures will take place for at least another month after that.
The first 10 rounds of the 18-team County Championship season will be lost, as well much of the time allocated to the domestic Twenty20 and one-day competitions.
The inaugural season of The Hundred, the short-form competition meant to launch in England this July and revolutionise cricket’s appeal in the country, has already been delayed to 2021.
The ECB has said it will evaluate all options for restarting first-class cricket in England over the next month.
Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said the body was “still hopeful of seeing both domestic and recreational cricket this season.
“Whilst traditional formats of our competitions are the preference, we are not against exploring the unorthodox to ensure that we can return our players to the field.”
Some of those unorthodox options could include counties being split into regional groups to complete short competitions, and matches being played in front of limited crowds, with social distancing built in.
Two counties, Surrey and Northamptonshire, have already said they are looking at holding matches in front of crowds - albeit, massively reduced ones - this summer.
The international summer of cricket is set to start on 8 July, with England taking on the West Indies in a test series. The touring side is expected to fly over to England in the next 10 days, with the ECB set to foot the bill for private chartered flights both to and from the country.
Pakistan, Australia and Ireland were also set to travel to England this summer.
Last month, a report from sports advisory firm Oakwell Advisory Group claimed that if no cricket at all takes place in England this year, then the 18 professional England counties would lose around £85 million ($105 million) combined.