18 Apr

BJ Watling, the New Zealand wicketkeeper, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner, the Australia batsman and all-rounder respectively, have come to a mutual agreement with the county that they won’t take up their contracts for this campaign, but with the option to sign all three for the 2021 season.

Watling had been signed for Lancashire’s first nine County Championship matches, while the Australian pair were due to be part of the T20 Blast squad.

Paul Allott, Lancashire’s director of cricket, decided to take early action to cancel the contracts given the uncertainty over travel restrictions and social distancing.

“These are clearly very uncertain and challenging times for all counties both financially and operationally and it’s clear the issues we face at the moment will have an impact on the way we prepare for the domestic season,” Allott said.

“The overseas player situation is a policy that has been discussed nationwide and we think it’s prudent to mutually come to an agreement with the players we have originally signed. Clearly, we are looking at a condensed and truncated season and whilst it is, of course, disappointing not to have any overseas players at our disposal, it does mean that we will be able to give our young and home-grown players increased opportunities.”

With all cricket suspended until at least May 28, all of Lancashire’s staff — including players — have agreed to a 20 per cent salary reduction for the whole of next month. They are one of two counties, along with Surrey, that will not, for the moment at least, be furloughing their players.

The ECB’s board of directors will meet next week to agree what a truncated season may look like and it is widely expected that the inaugural edition of The Hundred will be postponed until 2021. Even if cricket has started up again by the planned start date of July 17, there would be continued uncertainty about the participation of overseas players and concerns that the competition could not be marketed properly to make the first year of the flagship tournament a success.

A truncated season is likely to centre around the county T20 Blast, which can go ahead without any overseas players, and international cricket.

John Stephenson


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