ECB begins preparations for county cricket’s August return

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has revealed that professional men’s county cricket will return on 1 August following the season’s postponement due to the global health pandemic.

Plans as to how county cricket will be structured have yet to be agreed upon, however, the formats are to be discussed in early July with a schedule to be announced shortly after. 

ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, stated: “It is a significant step for our game that we are able to approve the start of the men’s domestic season for 1 August and one which will be welcomed by everyone connected with county cricket.

“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 that continues to occur as we prepare for a domestic season unlike any the game has faced before.

“It must be stressed that the safety of our players, staff and officials has been the first priority through all discussions and government guidance will continue to shape our planning and preparation.”

Men’s first-class county players will be able to begin training on or before 1 July in order to prepare for the upcoming season. Moreover, plans are being discussed for the new season to include options for red-ball and white-ball cricket.

Furthermore the ECB has created a dedicated working group along with First-Class Counties to specifically focus on domestic cricket and how the sport can deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Harrison also shed some light on its women’s game, with him emphasising that women’s domestic cricket will also be played in 2020 as the board is committed to see its new elite domestic structure commence.

Harrison continued: “Planning for the return of the women’s domestic game remains ongoing, but our commitment to women’s domestic cricket is unwavering and we look forward to sharing further news shortly.

“Our strong preference is that the women’s new elite domestic structure starts this summer and we will work hard to ensure that happens. For this to be achieved, brand new infrastructure still needs to be rolled-out, alongside imperatives we need in place when playing competitive cricket during a pandemic.”

So far this year there has been no cricket played in the UK, nevertheless, that is set to change as England will begin its behind-closed-doors Test series against the West Indies next month.