ECB considering tri-series involving India, South Africa later in summer

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With the ODI series against India already postponed and doubts cast over South Africa’s tour, England women’s director of cricket Clare Connor has revealed that a tri-series including the three teams could be an option to bring back some international cricket this summer which has been hampered due to Coronavirus pandemic.

While India were scheduled to travel for white-ball assignments in June and July, South Africa are meant to travel to England in September, but a possible alternative to those series involves a condensed program between the three nations.

However, nothing is concrete as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) grapples with the implications of the pandemic, with Connor admitting earlier this month there may have to be fewer international women’s fixtures this summer in order to safeguard its long-term future.

“We’re still really committed to being able to play as much as of our international women’s program later on in the summer,” Connor was quoted as saying to PA Media. “Whether that’s two separate series against India and South Africa or even a tri-series, which is something we are exploring. All we can do is to make the plans to be able to play and work with the venues that are likely to be involved in putting on that behind-closed-doors program.”

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The ECB confirmed up to 18 male bowlers will take part in staggered training sessions across seven County grounds from Thursday (May 21) in what will be the first major step towards England hosting international cricket this summer. Connor believes the women’s side are a few weeks behind following similar measures but added that the lag could prove instructive for the backroom team.

“Those same individualised return to training protocols will apply to the women’s players,” she added. “We’re looking to follow a very similar phased approach from later on in June so we’ll probably be three to four weeks behind the England men’s players.

“That’s not through any lesser importance being placed on them but more of a reality of who’s likely to play first and where we need to focus the immediate attention and physical and medical support. At least it will give our players, support staff and medical staff a chance to learn from how all that unfolds with the men,” she said.

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The women’s game has enjoyed a fruitful few years, evidenced when 86,174 flocked to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March to witness the T20 World Cup final between Australia and India. Plans for investing heavily in women’s cricket will be protected despite the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

“I remain really confident that the momentum we’ve built behind the women’s game will be protected to the absolute best of our endeavors,” Connor added. “There is a very strong desire to protect the investment into the women's and girls’ game. We are a very small piece of an enormous, difficult jigsaw. If we can make some contribution to boosting morale or keeping people hopeful of better times, then that will have been a job well done.”