ECB postpone start of County season

England

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have made the surprising announcement that they have pushed back the start of the County season, due to begin this coming weekend, by two weeks.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have made the surprising announcement that they have pushed back the start of the County season, due to begin this coming weekend, by two weeks.

The First round of Division One and Two fixtures were set to take place on the weekend of 6 April, but the ECB have decided to delay the start in order to give national team players the chance to recover from a long winter.

Sides like Nottinghamshire, who start their season against Lancashire at Trent Bridge, have key players returning from Bangladesh, namely T20 captain Stuart Broad and star batsman Alex Hales, who will be grateful for the reprieve.

ECB managing director Paul Downton confirmed the delay, speaking after England's defeat to the Netherlands on Monday: "A few County coaches have come to us on the quiet, asking for some time to get their national players back on track.

"While we have the utmost respect for the fans who have already bought tickets for the coming weekend's games, we have to be true to the stakeholders, and allow the England players every chance to make meaningful contributions in this lucrative competition."

Downton also confirmed that punters who had tickets in hand already would still be allowed to use them when the season kicks off on 20 April, as the venues and times will stay the same. But he said no refunds would be given to those who couldn't make the new fixtures.

Needless to say, not all Counties were thrilled with the news, with Essex CEO Derek Bowden saying: "This is not ideal. We've been training at all hours, including with Brentwood Town to get our fitness up, and this just puts a dampener on things.

"And anyway, Alastair Cook wasn't in Bangladesh and had ages to recover, and he is champing at the bit. There's only so much sheep farming a man can do before he's bored stiff. We only have Ravi Bopara to worry about, and he didn't bowl much anyway."

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