ECB announces delay to season
ECB announces delay to season

The ECB Board has today agreed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least May 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The ECB Board has agreed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales before May 28.
  • Work has begun on possible revised schedules to begin in June, July or August.
  • The ECB has worked closely with the counties, PCA and MCC with the wellbeing of the cricket family the number one priority.
  • A revised schedule would prioritise delivering as much international and domestic cricket as possible

The Board approved the recommendation to delay the start of the season following discussions with the First Class Counties, the MCC and the PCA.

It was agreed that, given the current information available, a seven-week delay to the start of the season is the most appropriate approach.

The ECB has begun modelling a range of options to start the season in June, July or August – with an immediate focus on options for cricket in June, including the three-Test series against West Indies, the Vitality Blast and England Women’s schedule against India.

Close liaison with the Government will continue, with discussions on the potential of starting the season behind closed doors and giving sports fans the opportunity to live broadcast action.

The potential for reduced versions of competitions, should the season become further truncated, will also be discussed.

The Board will meet as needed to review the position and make further decisions as the UK situation unfolds.

ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said: “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.

“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.’’

Simon Storey, Kent Cricket’s Chief Executive, said: “ECB have been working very closely with all First Class Counties to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on this summer’s cricket schedule.

“Whilst the delay to the start of the season will no doubt be disappointing to many cricket fans, we fully support the ECB’s decision.

“Our priority has to be the health and welfare of everyone who plays, watches or follows cricket and to ensure that we support Government and Public Health England’s measures to protect communities across Britain from the spread of COVID-19 virus.

“The Club’s COVID-19 Task Force have been working for some time on mitigating the financial implications of the delay.

“Although we face an incredibly difficult and complex set of challenges, we continue to be confident that by taking appropriate measures within the business and with appropriate support from key stakeholders, we will be able to navigate a route through this crisis.

“We are pursuing all options vigorously and risk mitigation measures are being put in place.

“We are working closely and collaboratively with the ECB and our fellow First-Class counties to ensure that a game-wide plan is in place to cover the various scenarios, be that a shortened season or no season at all.

“We believe that everyone in the cricket family across the UK is approaching this crisis with a desire to act in the best interests of the game’s stakeholders, at all levels.

“Clearly, these are challenging times, not only for cricket but for so many around the world and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.”

PCA Chief Executive, Tony Irish, said:

“These are unprecedented times which require the right decisions to be made for all, including everyone working, and involved, in cricket. The PCA supports this decision to delay the start of the season based on expert advice relating to health and wellbeing and taking into account the government’s position.

“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. 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.

“It is extremely important that the PCA is there to support all of our players and we will continue do that through our dedicated player services team. The welfare of our members is critical at times like this. We also continue to remind our all our members to be guided by medical and government advice relating to their health and that of others.

“To support players who are following the social distancing advice, our team of Personal Development Managers have created a ‘Social Isolation Guide’ which signposts members to useful resources and which is available on the PCA website.

“The PCA’s 24-hour Confidential Helpline is there to deal with any player mental health issue through our provider, Sporting Chance.

“It is a time for players, men and women and at all levels, to stand together and to support each other and we are confident that our players in England and Wales will do just that.”