The England and Wales Cricket Board announced that no professional cricket will be played till May 28 in wake of the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected all walks of life. The ECB took the call after a discussion with eight first-class counties, the MCC and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, after which it was decided that the start of the cricket season be delayed by at least seven weeks. Also Read - Allrounder Ben Stokes Training For IPL 2020 Despite Coronavirus Lockdown in India
It is believed that discussions regarding a new calendar have already taken place and that rescheduling of cricket events will start somewhere in June, with the next two months expected to host tournaments. This includes two high-profile international series – West Indies’ three-Test tour of England from June 4 to June 29 and India women tour of England from June 25 to July 9. However, these modifications are in subject to the series of events that unfold in the UK. Also Read - Alastair Cook Not Hopeful Of County Season This Summer Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
“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,” Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive officer, said. Also Read - Unrealistic Option to Host England's Home Series in The Caribbean: CWI Chief Johnny Grave
“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.
“With the information available to us at the moment a delay to the start of the professional cricket season until May 28 was unavoidable. 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 move has been taken by the board because the ECB prioritizes the safety and well-being of the public over everything else and with the Coronavirus strengthening its grip around the UK, the decision only makes sense. As per data received on Friday night, the Coronavirus has affected more than 4000 people in the UK with 177 deaths with 65 have recovered. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
The original cricket season in the UK was to commence from March 24 with County winners Essex supposed to take on MCC. The England national cricket team was also to tour Sri Lanka but it was called off due to the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19. As a result of the postponement, even the T20 Blast will have to be rescheduled.
“The decision has at least given clarity to players following a week of uncertainty about whether or not they will be playing over the coming weeks,” Tony Irish, PCA chief said. “All players are in this together and as their players’ association we now need to work for the players collectively in dealing with the ECB and the first-class counties to find solutions to the challenges ahead.
“Naturally, players have concerns around when they will be able to start playing again, about what the schedule will look like when cricket resumes and about employment security around their contracts. The PCA will represent them in dealing with these issues with the ECB and the counties and seek the right solutions and ones that are acceptable to the players.”