“In these desperately difficult and uncertain times, it is crucial that as much clarity as possible is given to the immediate future. The primary concern for us all remains the safety, health and wellbeing of our players, staff, members and the public at large and all solutions must be respectful of this. It is therefore eminently sensible and responsible for the ECB to postpone the start of the cricket season until towards the end of May and to spend the near future evaluating the options for a truncated and revised schedule. With this approach, the ECB and the key stakeholders in the game can determine the best approach to deliver the priorities identified.
At Middlesex Cricket, we will evaluate the impact of the latest statement on our members, players, sponsors and other stakeholders in the coming days before we communicate our policy moving forward. We will also be looking to provide as much assistance as possible to the recreational game, the cricket clubs and other organisations that form the bedrock of the game, as they too face many challenges in the months ahead.’
Richard Goatley, Middlesex Cricket Chief Executive
The following statement was issued by the ECB earlier this evening...
ECB announces delay to the professional cricket season
The ECB Board has today agreed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least May 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board approved the recommendation to delay the start of the season following discussions with the First Class Counties, the MCC and the PCA.
It was agreed that, given the current information available, a seven-week delay to the start of the season is the most appropriate approach.
The ECB has begun modelling a range of options to start the season in June, July or August – with an immediate focus on options for cricket in June, including the three-Test series against West Indies, the Vitality Blast and England Women’s schedule against India.
Close liaison with the Government will continue, with discussions on the potential of starting the season behind closed doors and giving sports fans the opportunity to live broadcast action.
The potential for reduced versions of competitions, should the season become further truncated, will also be discussed.
The Board will meet as needed to review the position and make further decisions as the UK situation unfolds.
ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said: “During this period of deep uncertainty it is the ECB’s first priority to protect the wellbeing of everyone within the cricket family, from players, to fans and colleagues across the game.
“The decision to delay the start of the season has been essential, given the circumstances the nation faces. I am reassured by the collaborative effort from across the game that together, we will make the very best of whatever length of season we are able to safely schedule in the coming months.
“With the information available to us at the moment a delay to the start of the professional cricket season until May 28 was unavoidable. This also allows us time to keep pace with a fast-moving situation and continue to plan for how a revised season might look. Critically, we can also remain as flexible and adaptable as possible, within the obvious restrictions we face.
“Securing the future of the game will be a primary focus as we plot a revised schedule with an emphasis on the most financially important forms of the game for the counties across international and domestic cricket.’’