May 16, 2022


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County Championship could include Lord’s final with hopes for August start

A five-day Lord’s last might be the centrepiece of an abbreviated 2020 county season which must also function T20 Finals Day.

Topic to authorities clearance and an ongoing enchancment within the Covid-19 state of affairs, ESPNcricinfo understands the ECB hope to begin the home season in early August.

The Championship is about to be break up into three regional teams – North, South and West – with all groups set to play a minimal of 5 video games. The highest two groups on the finish of the regional stage will play a last, most likely over 5 days, at Lord’s. It stays unclear if the winners will likely be seen as County Champions within the conventional sense, however the outcomes of the 2020 season may have no bearing on divisions subsequent yr.

Which means the three promoted groups (Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Northamptonshire) will begin the 2021 marketing campaign in Division One, relegated Nottinghamshire will stay in Division Two, and Somerset’s 12-point pitch penalty is prone to roll over to subsequent season.

The Vitality T20 Blast season can also be set to be performed – together with Finals Day at Edgbaston – however the Royal London One-Day Cup appears to be like virtually sure to be deserted.

If the home season is unable to start till September, plans for a Championship season will likely be dropped and all efforts will as an alternative give attention to The Blast. Within the best-case situation, every county will play 4 first-class video games in August earlier than breaking for the Blast season.

ALSO READ: Lancashire hopeful spectators could be admitted again in September

Whereas counties stay eager to play in entrance of crowds, there’s an acceptance that there might be no ensures in that regard at current. If crucial, nonetheless, they seem decided to go forward behind closed doorways or with social distancing constructed into their plans. This might imply grounds resembling Edgbaston and The Kia Oval, with capacities over 20,000, would solely be capable to accommodate round 6,000 spectators.

The counties are anxious to see a return to cricket, nonetheless, fearing the implications if they’re unable to play from September 2019 to April 2021. Not least amongst their issues is the prospect of needing to refund membership subscriptions. A number of golf equipment would look to broadcast their video games over their web sites, Fb, or YouTube.

If the season had been to begin in August, county gamers would must be taken off furlough in the beginning of July on the newest. Solely two counties, Lancashire and Surrey, haven’t used the federal government’s job retention scheme for gamers.

There are numerous problems. A number of grounds – notably Edgbaston, Emirates Previous Trafford and the Ageas Bowl – are getting used as bio-secure venues for touring groups (England at Southampton, West Indies in Manchester and Pakistan in Birmingham) whereas there may be a have to play into October.

However the Skilled Sport Group, who’re discussing the plans on Thursday, imagine that with a little bit of flexibility, options might be discovered and hope the five-day last will mitigate in opposition to the more and more risk of dangerous mild if the Championship last is performed, as anticipated, in late September.

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