ECB announces delayed start to the professional season

Women's CricZone Staff
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Australia keen to start well against England

England celebrate a wicket. © Getty Images

The England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday (March 20) evening announced that no professional cricket would be played under their jurisdiction until May 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision to delay the season was taken after discussion with First-Class counties, the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Professional Cricketers’ Association.

All three parties agreed that a seven week delay to the season was the most appropriate decision considering the scale at which the virus seems to be spreading. The ECB has thus started working on a revised schedule with a range of options to start the season in June, July or August. The immediate focus of the governing body is to protect the women’s team’s limited overs series against India, The Hundred and the men’s T20 Blast and the Test series against West Indies.

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“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,” said Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive officer.

“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.”

One of the options being discussed with the Government is the possibility of playing these competitions behind closed doors, giving fans the opportunity to watch the live broadcast. The ECB is also considering the potential for the tournaments to be played as reduced versions.

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“With the information available to us at the moment a delay to the start of the professional cricket season until May 28 was unavoidable,” Harrison admitted. “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.’’

The ECB will continue to monitor the situation and liaison with the Government as things unfold, Harrison said.