How cricket has reacted to the coronavirus pandemic
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has ripped the exhausting international and domestic cricket calendar front to back, replacing the usual treadmill of fixtures with little more than a blank hole.
That in turn has left the game battling major financial concerns.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what has been affected and what might come next.
What postponements have been confirmed?
England are effectively on hiatus, having beaten a hasty retreat from Sri Lanka midway through a tour match in Colombo. That two-match series is due to be re-arranged, potentially for January, but no decisions have been made yet. The wider game has been put on hold until at least May 28, pushing back the start of the Specsavers County Championship and sweeping seven rounds of fixtures with it. Similar decisions have been taken globally, with the lucrative Indian Premier League pushed back to an optimistic start date of April 15. Ad-hoc decisions were taken elsewhere, with India and South Africa intending to play two impacted ODIs in the future but Australia and New Zealand agreeing to scrub two from the books. Ireland have had to postpone two important series, away in Zimbabwe and home to Bangladesh.
What is the plan for the English season?
The ECB have made it clear that they will prioritise its most lucrative forms of cricket when the green light finally comes. That means all England internationals leap to the front of the queue, starting with the first Test of the summer against the West Indies from June 4. After that the popular Vitality Blast Twenty20 tournament and the inaugural season of The Hundred will be pushed. To the likely disappointment of purists and county members, the County Championship, due to start on April 12, is almost certain to be reduced and could yet be cancelled entirely for a year.
What are the options?
Modelling has been undertaken to take under consideration resumption of cricket in June, July and August, as well as the doomsday scenario of a fully fallow campaign. Each version implies different volumes of cricket, but changing the span and design of competitions appears highly probable in any circumstance.
Who is involved in the decisions?
The ECB is ultimately responsible, via its board, but key stakeholders including all 18 first-class counties, the MCC, broadcasters and the Professional Cricketers’ Association are involved in discussions.
Could cricket be played behind closed doors this summer?
Absolutely. English attendances are the envy of the cricketing world and Test captain Joe Root has already spoken about the wrench he would feel if fans were kept away, but needs must. If games can safely take place in a sterile environment, they would surely do so. With so much sport canned in the coming months, the sight of elite athletes competing would be a welcome sight in television and radio schedules and help ease the coming fixture crush.
What about the World Test Championship?
After years of deliberation, the International Cricket Council finally pulled the trigger on a codified tournament for the most prestigious format. The first final is due to be played at Lord’s in June 2021, but the prospect of completing all scheduled series in time seems a stretch. Behind the scenes the ICC are currently engaged in contingency planning, but with no real time pressure the specifics do not need to be settled imminently.
And what of the Twenty20 World Cup in October?
The competition is still scheduled to take place, comprising seven host cities in Australia. The ICC have not yet raised any doubts about it taking place on time and as planned, with tickets still on sale. Events beyond sporting control will dictate whether it ultimately goes ahead.
What impact does all this have financially?
It is a very serious situation for both the international and, most severely, the domestic game. The ECB has announced a financial stimulus package worth GBP 61million to support the game during its hiatus during the ongoing pandemic. ECB chief executive Tom Harrison also announced he will take an undisclosed cut on his near GBP 720,000 salary.
What action has been taken to protect the county game?
A collective player agreement has been thrashed out between the Professional Cricketers’ Association, the ECB and the 18 first-class counties. County cricketers will take “maximum reductions” in their salaries during April and May while also agreeing to waive GBP 1million in prize money this year. Under the agreement, which covers April and May, players will also agree to be furloughed if asked by their county, which cannot deduct wages further than what has been decided and should be in line with non-playing staff at each individual club. Yorkshire, Essex, Glamorgan, Kent and Leicestershire were among the first counties to announce furloughing for at least some of their playing staff.
Pakistan shift Zimbabwe T20Is from Lahore to Rawalpindi
Zimbabwe are now set to play all six internationals in Rawalpindi.
CSA rubbishes reports of resignations at board level
Cricket South Africa insist there have been no resignations.
India great Kapil Dev stable after emergency heart surgery
The former all-rounder captained his country to a first-ever World Cup crown in 1983.
England’s male cricketers agree to pay cut to help deal with coronavirus crisis
Cuts will last for a year.
Middlesex committed to improving inclusivity and ‘addressing bias’
The Lord’s-based county confronted the issue at a recent board meeting.
Australian Event Awards honour Women’s T20 World Cup
The Women’s T20 World Cup has been recognised once again for its innovation and excellence in the field of event organisation.
India tour to Australia rubber-stamped by government
Cricket Australia have hammered out a deal with the New South Wales authorities to host the quarantining players.
England announce T20I and ODI tour to South Africa next month
England’s first tour since the coronavirus pandemic began will be played out amid biosecure plans agreed with the Proteas.
Morgan warns against long-term impact of bio-bubbles
England captain Eoin Morgan and his West Indies counterpart Jason Holder have expressed concerns about continuous use of bio-bubbles.