London, April 24 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday announced that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least 1 July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ECB had previously announced that no cricket would be played until May 28 but that date has now been an extended in view of the prevailing situation.
An ECB Board meeting on Thursday approved a number of measures which would significantly restructure the English season if some cricket is played this summer.
In terms of international cricket, featuring England men’s and women’s teams, will look to be scheduled from July until the end of September, with the West Indies Test Series and the women’s series against India (T20Is and ODIs) both moving from their original slots
In terms of domestic cricket, the T20 Blast, which was set to begin on May 28, will be pushed back as late into the season as possible to give it the best chance of being played. All group matches scheduled for June will be rearranged for later in the season.
The ECB Board also approved the concept of having blocks of red and white ball cricket in a revised schedule. Nine rounds of fixtures will be lost in the County Championship up to the beginning of July which means any red-ball cricket would be on a very different basis to normal.
There will be a Board meeting on April 29 to discuss the future of The Hundred competition, stated the board in a media statement. The ECB previously said that The Hundred would also be prioritised.
“As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority — over and above the playing of professional sport — will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole over,” said ECB CEO Tom Harrison.
“That’s why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it’s safe to play. Our schedule will only go ahead if government guidance permits.
“Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us shape how we deliver this.
“Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play. The Vitality Blast will also now occupy the latest possible season slot to offer as much time as possible to play a County short-form competition,” he added.