24 April 2020

ECB extends suspension, postpones Windies series and T20 Blast, but still makes no decision on The Hundred

Cricket in England and Wales will not resume until July 1, at the earliest, the England and Wales Cricket Board have announced.

The decision means that England's three-match test series with the West Indies, which was due to take place in June, will be postponed until later in the season as will England women's T20I and ODI matches against India.

These international matches are expected to be rearranged for before September in order to allow as much of the domestic season as possible to take place.

No domestic competitions have yet been cancelled but as the season was due to start on April 12, the delay means the schedule could become overcrowded and some events will be cancelled.

The T20 Blast, which was meant to launch on May 28, will be pushed back ‘to give it the best opportunity of being staged’, with matches previously scheduled in June moved as late as possible in the season.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority - over and above the playing of professional sport - will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole.

"That's why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it's safe to play. 

"Our schedule will only go ahead if government guidance permits."

The announcement means that at least nine matches from the Specsaver's County Championship will be scrapped, and decisions must be made over the inaugural series of ‘The Hundred.'

Currently due to start on July 31, the fate of the ECB's newest format will be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday after it was deemed in need of a separate meeting to make an effective decision on the event.

Harrison also revealed that some events could be held behind closed doors in order to prioritise the safety of players and fans.

Talking to the BBC he admitted the ECB are 'starting to get comfortable with the idea that there won't be crowds this summer' and that matches could be held in a ‘bio-secure’ environment.

He added: "Much of our planning is now based on what behind closed-doors-cricket might look like.

"If you talk about the measures the government has got in place through this lockdown and the subtle messaging that's coming out about the longevity of some of the measures, probably the last lever the government is likely to pull is the one around mass gatherings. 

“That is obviously something for us that impacts the ability to put cricket fans into stadia,” he concluded.

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