England’s home series against West Indies will not go ahead in June as planned after the start of the 2020 season was further delayed.
Having originally announced there would be no play on English soil before May 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has now announced there will be no professional cricket until at least July 1.
The decision affects the three-Test series with West Indies due to take place in June, though the aim is to reschedule international fixtures for both the men’s and women’s teams from July until the end of the September.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison admitted there is still no certainty of any cricket being played during the English season, with games only able to go ahead if permitted by government guidelines.
“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,” Harrison said.
“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.
“Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us shape how we deliver this.”
A revised domestic fixture list will see the Vitality Blast Twenty20 tournament pushed “as late in the season as possible to give it the best opportunity of being staged”, according to a statement from the ECB.
However, nine rounds of the County Championship will be lost this year, with a board meeting next Wednesday to decide what will happen with The Hundred, the new white-ball competition due to begin on July 17.
“Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play,” Harrison said of the potential restructuring.
“The Vitality Blast will also now occupy the latest possible season slot to offer as much time as possible to play a county short-form competition.
“I want to thank everyone involved in this complex and sensitive work. There have clearly never been times like this and my colleagues at the ECB and across the game have been exemplary in this period. It has been refreshing, but not surprising, to see how cricket has come together.”