30 Jun

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for county cricket to resume on August 1, but the counties are divided as to what format they should adopt once they start playing.

County chairmen will vote on July 7 for one of two options:

  • A regional first-class competition with each team playing five group matches followed by a final in late September.
  • A regional 50-over one-day cup, with a final in September.

The majority want to play a meaningful first-class competition believing they have a responsibility to their members and players, particularly those who are in the last year of their contracts, to play both red and white-ball formats (there will be a T20 competition to follow whatever competition begins in August).

Others are concerned about the cost implications of bringing all their players back from furlough and arranging hotels for multi-night stays as well as some concerns about injuries to their players, who will have had only about three to four weeks to prepare.

The ECB and counties are working on potential changes to the playing regulations which might allow for injury substitutes during a match to mitigate some of these concerns. Under the ECB constitution, 12 of the 18 counties need to vote in favour to carry any proposal and it is expected that about two thirds of chairmen will vote to play first-class cricket.

Another avenue being considered would be for those who want to play first-class cricket to do so and the rest to have a smaller, more informal 50-over league.

An additional complication is when to bring their players off furlough. A number of counties have players who are on white ball-only contracts and if August is dedicated to red-ball cricket they may wish to leave them furloughed for another month and bring them back for the T20 Blast due to take place in September.

Most counties have now either resumed training or will be doing so within the next week. Players have been asked to “opt in” to playing, which means that any who have concerns about their health or the health of people they live with can decide not to play. So far there have not been any reports of players deciding against returning to work.

The T20 Blast, running until mid-October, will also be in a three-group regionalised format. All 18 counties are in favour of this option, with the hope that by September a small number of spectators might be allowed in their grounds. It is unlikely any spectators will be allowed in the grounds during August unless the plan of some counties to reclassify their bars as pubs with beer gardens comes to fruition.

John Stephenson


#ECB #CountyCricket #Cricketnews

* The email will not be published on the website.