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COVID-19 poses a real threat to English cricket

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Roar Guru
22nd March, 2020
18

Cricket Australia may be wondering what impact COVID-19 will have next summer, but it is far better than being in the shoes of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The season of 2020 was supposed to replete with Tests in all forms, T20 Blast, ODs, county cricket and the new Hundreds for the men.

Instead the season has been postponed until May 28th. The day that was supposed to see the T20 Blast competition start, and a few days before the first Test against the West Indies.

The ECB has decided to plan for cricket starting then, or even later in the summer. What they do not want to do is cancel the season, or some tours, or some of the competitions.

However, it is clear that the ECB will focus on the money spinners of the game: the Tests, the T20 Blast, and the Hundreds. The Professional Cricket Association has agreed to the delay as it gives players the clarity they need in this moment in time.

The ECB are going to meet the government, and some are contemplating starting the season with no fans, this may even happen when the First Test starts.

Some of the counties want the Tests against the Windies to be played later in the season. The T20 Blast is 90 per cent of their income from funds not given to them by the ECB.

This would cause issues with the ECB who have different formats of the game against the Windies and Pakistan, along with shortened forms of the game against Australia and Ireland.

The women’s team have games against India and South Africa.

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The new form of the game the Hundreds has led the financial reserves of the ECB go from c£70 million to c£10 million.

It had managed to get Sky to agree to show every match, for 10 games to be on free-to-air BBC.

Now it faces marque players from overseas not being available due to changes in the start of the IPL season, or from players not being able to come to Britain either due to travel restrictions in Britain or in the players own country.

Some argue that the ECB to preserve its reserves ought to postpone the Hundreds to 2021.

Meanwhile, others have argued that the postponing of cricket until May 28th gives the ECB the opportunity to review the way the competitions are organised and calendared. Once radical ideas may become the new norm.

The ripples from the COVID-19 are being seen and felt by CA, but it is in a far better place at the moment than the ECB.