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The ECB has announced a further delay to the start of the domestic cricket season, with no domestic cricket to be played before 1 August.
It equates to the loss of 10 rounds of the County Championship and group stages of the T20 Blast.
(Editor’s Note – 29th May – Domestic cricket is NOT the same as international cricket so England’s three-Test series against West Indies in July is still being planned).
The launch of The Hundred has already been put back to 2021.
ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said:
“Naturally we want to see cricket being played at every level. We remain hopeful of seeing both domestic and recreational cricket this season and planning with the PGG (Professional Game Group) has allowed us to map a number of potential scenarios for domestic play.”
Exploring the unorthodox
International and county cricket behind closed doors, regionalisation of games and matches being streamed online are all future options.
It is unquestionably a blow after plenty of optimism and speculation that we could see England play in July.
It leaves two months left of the domestic cricket season to try to salvage some fixtures and crucially, some of the broadcasting revenue tied up with that.
As it stands, Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s first fixture of 2020 will be the Yorkshire Vikings’ trip to Leicestershire Foxes in the One-Day Cup on 2 August.
No change for recreational cricket
As for the recreational game, it remains suspended until further notice.
I’ve always assumed that county cricket would return before the grassroots game was started back up.
Time is ticking on and that leaves 6-8 weeks of a conventional season – unless we venture into October.
So…no professional domestic cricket until 1 August at earliest and recreational game stays suspended until further notice.
— Cricket Yorkshire (@cricketyorks) May 28, 2020
While the only form of recreational cricket allowed is the use of outdoor club facilities under strict guidance, it looks like cricket leagues and competitions for all age-groups will have to go back to the drawing board once again.
If there’s no Bradford Premier League (to take an example) before August then it’s hard to see it starting at all with any credibility.
Certainly not with any promotion or relegation so a T20/50-over competition or friendlies remain the viable options.
There is a glimmer of hope, as the ECB’s Harrison outlined:
“As children start returning to school in the coming weeks, we look forward to exploring how those guidelines and learnings can be deployed for cricket. This can then see the recreational game continue its phased return as soon as we have Government approval.”
So….a further setback for the grassroots game – but what do you think?
Leave your comments below! How hopeful are you of there being any cricket this season?
How important is it for cricket clubs to get some clarity – or is waiting until August in the hope of some cricket better than none at all?
Photo of Joe Root batting is by John Heald