Cricket plans domestic return for men and women

Cricket plans domestic return for men and women

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the professional men’s county cricket season to begin on 01 August.

The formats to be played during the delayed men’s county season are due to be agreed by the 18 First-Class Counties in early July, with a new fixture schedule to be published thereafter.

A commitment to play women’s domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made, but may differ from the planned roll-out of the new women’s elite domestic structure which is the equivalent of the men’s county set-up and is formed of eight regions.

Establishing a structure for a new competition during a pandemic has provided specific challenges for the women’s domestic game, most notably having the required medical personnel in place to handle stringent return-to-play protocols.

Derek Bowden, Chief Executive of Essex County Cricket Club said of the news: “We are of course delighted that a return to Cricket is on the horizon. Although exact arrangements in terms of scheduling are yet to be ratified by the first-class counties, confirmation that a return to the field of play is imminent is a welcome relief to us all.

“Our players and coaching staff have returned from a period of furlough today and have started preparations to compete and entertain in whatever form of the game we will be asked to participate in.

Preparation and planning for the season across the men’s and women’s domestic game remains subject to ongoing advice from Government and medical professionals with the safety of players, staff and officials the first priority.

The ECB Board has also approved the return to training of Men’s First-Class County players on or before 01 July and a dedicated working group with representatives from the First-Class Counties and ECB has been formed to provide specific focus to Domestic Cricket, while COVID-19 continues to impact the game.

The main objectives for this group are;

• To develop a single set of operating procedures that will incorporate cricket operations, venue operations and medical protocols
• To provide a single delivery model that can be implemented across all 18 FCCs and regional women’s teams
• To provide feedback and progress to the ECB Board and FCC Chairs

“Although play will resume on 01 August, we will still be led by Government advice as to whether or not spectators will be allowed into the ground. Please rest assured that there is plenty of work going on behind the scenes to ensure there is accessible coverage of our return for as many of our Members, fans and followers as possible,” Mr Bowden continued, “In the meantime, we look forward to the outcome of the discussions with our fellow counties early next month.”

Further information about the return of Essex Cricket can be found on their website.

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