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Kent Cricket won't be playing until July, at the earliest, after ECB extended suspension of the professional game

The England and Wales Cricket Board have further delayed the start of the professional season.

No cricket will be played until July 1 at the earliest because of the coronavirus crisis.

Kent vs Warwickshire at Canterbury last year
Kent vs Warwickshire at Canterbury last year

The ECB board, who initially postponed action until the end of May, say that the season remains subject to ongoing advice from government and health experts.

Nine rounds of fixtures will be lost in the County Championship season but blocks for red-ball cricket and white-ball cricket will be held in a revised schedule.

The Vitality Blast will be pushed as late into the season as possible to give it the best opportunity of being staged. All matches previously scheduled in June will be moved later in the season.

Kent Cricket's chief exec Simon Storey said: "This further delay to the start of the cricket season was inevitable given the current situation.

Kent Cricket's chief exec Simon Storey Picture: Ady Kerry
Kent Cricket's chief exec Simon Storey Picture: Ady Kerry

“Clearly, our priority has to remain on the protection of the health and well-being of players, staff, members and supporters and of course the vulnerable, key workers and the wider community across the county.

"The ECB is working hard alongside the 18 first-class counties (FCCs) to make right decisions for the game as a whole. It's important that we work with our media partners to get the right balance of international matches alongside domestic cricket to secure our broadcast commitments.

“I'm pleased that the schedules being considered include blocks for red-ball and white-ball cricket and also revised Women's One Day Internationals. Given the complexity, it is entirely understandable that ECB require additional time for further discussion around The Hundred.

“The shape of the season will also have an impact on potential revenue streams so it's reasonable that the Vitality Blast has been moved later, but I'm also hopeful that some form of first-class cricket will be played at county level this season, too.

Sean Dickson in action for Kent last summer
Sean Dickson in action for Kent last summer

"What cannot be underestimated are the challenges that this pandemic brings both socially and financially, and everyone at Kent Cricket that remain in post are working hard to ensure that the long-term impact on the Club is as manageable as possible.

"In line with all FCCs, our membership packages will be reviewed once the season itself becomes clearer, and I'd like to extend the club's thanks to our members for their understanding during these testing times for all of us."

An additional board meeting will be scheduled next Wednesday on The Hundred, following a request to dedicate a further session to the competition.

Tom Harrison, ECB chief exec said: “Our role as a national governing body during a crisis of this scale requires us to carefully plan alongside cricket’s stakeholders and supporters to attempt to overcome Covid-19’s impact on this season.

Ollie Robinson stumps Ollie Pope in Kent's game against Surrey last August Picture: Ady Kerry
Ollie Robinson stumps Ollie Pope in Kent's game against Surrey last August Picture: Ady Kerry

“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.

“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.

“Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play.

“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.

The suspension of recreational cricket remains until further notice.

The Kent Cricket leagues are hoping to run half a season from July Picture: Alan Langley
The Kent Cricket leagues are hoping to run half a season from July Picture: Alan Langley

The Kent Cricket League was due to start on May 9 but the first half of the season has already been scrapped, as has that in the Kent Regional Cricket League, with hopes of restarting in early July, for a half season of competitive games to take place.

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