COUNTY cricket will return on August 1 after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gave the green light for the professional men’s game to finally begin after a wait of more than four months.
Worcestershire will take to the field later this summer after cricketing chiefs confirmed an abridged county season would begin, although there remains no date for the resumption of the recreational game.
Pears boss Fanos Hira will be among the 18 First Class chairmen meeting early next week to discuss what form the 2020 season will take as the ECB bids to squeeze as much cricket into potentially an eight or nine-week window.
The English cricket season traditionally concludes in September as the hours of daylight decrease so any incursion into October would certainly see revised starting times to complete games before bad light intervenes.
While the new The Hundred tournament has been been scrapped until 2021, there is no indication which of the ECB’s tournaments will remain in the revised schedule.
A shortened County Championship will be discussed in a bid to ensure red-ball cricket will be played, while a revised and regional Royal London One-Day Cup and Vitality Blast tournament will also be on the menu with all games played behind closed doors.
A commitment to play women’s domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made, but may differ from the planned rollout of the new women’s elite domestic structure.
Preparation and planning for the season across the men’s and women’s domestic game remains subject to ongoing advice from Government and medical professionals, with the safety of players, staff and officials the first priority.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said the announcement was ‘a significant step’ for the game.
“It follows extensive consultation between the 18 First Class counties, the Professionals Cricketers’ Association and ECB and has only been achievable thanks to the significant hard work which continues to occur as we prepare for a domestic season unlike any the game has faced before,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with both the men’s and women’s domestic game to ensure necessary safety measures are in place to protect the well-being of everyone involved.”