Former England captain Alastair Cook believes four-day County matches might have to be shortened or abandoned so that England Cricket Board could focus more on the more important series. Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the ECB on Saturday delayed the start of its cricketing season, stating no professional cricket will be played in the country till May 28. Also Read - ECB Delays Start of Cricket Season in UK
The County Championship was to begin from April 12, including the curtain-raiser being defending champions Essex – that won under Cook last season – taking on MCC in Sri Lanka. Cook revealed that it was his love for Essex that he continued playing on even after retiring internationally in 2018, but is unsure whether he’ll get to feature in a title defense this year. Also Read - England Tour of Sri Lanka Called Off Due to Coronavirus Threat
“I could have retired from all cricket when I quit the international stage in 2018 but I stayed on because I loved playing for Essex and that means the County Championship. I couldn’t have asked for a better first season back on the (domestic) circuit than winning the title in the last game of 2019,” Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, wrote in a column for The Sunday Times. Also Read - Alastair Cook, Ricky Skerritt Appointed New Members of MCC’s World Cricket Committee
The reason Cook feels that there may be no four-day competitions this summer is because County matches usually don’t generate as much money as international games due to its declining popularity. With England’s tour of Sri Lanka already called off, they are to host the West Indies in June. Then, there is the inaugural edition of The Hundred and the T20 Blast, which as per Cook, could become the board’s priority if and when the curfew is lifted.
“Will we get to defend that title? As things stand, there will be no cricket in England until May 28 at the earliest. I can say this because I have no financial interest in the outcome but it strikes me that those proposing that the authorities prioritise the most profitable parts of the English summer – The Hundred, T20 Blast and the national team – have a point,” he wondered.
“Can we salvage the four-day competition? Possibly but that will demand that we all pull in the same direction. We may well be looking at an abbreviated tournament, with more back-to-back matches and stretching into early October (sometimes warmer than the second half of April when the season usually starts). We may, as a result, see more floodlit cricket and ticket prices will almost certainly have to be reduced.
“None of this is ideal but we all have to see the bigger picture – for our sport and the country as a whole.”