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The England and Wales Cricket Board confirm professional cricket will be played no early than August 1 and are not against exploring unorthodox formats of the game

Kent Cricket chief exec Simon Storey remains hopeful of seeing the professional game resuming this summer - but the format might be different.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have now confirmed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least August 1, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Kent Cricket chief exec Simon Storey is hopeful of some play this summer but it won't be before August 1
Kent Cricket chief exec Simon Storey is hopeful of some play this summer but it won't be before August 1

Reacting to the ECB’s latest announcement, Mr Storey said: “We appreciate that this latest news will bring further disappointment for members, players, cricket fans and stakeholders across Kent.

“However, our priority must remain on the health and welfare of everyone who plays, watches or follows cricket.

“I know a huge number of people across the whole game at recreational and professional level, are working incredibly hard to ensure that we are ready to take to the field, as soon as we receive guidance that it is safe to do so.

“We should also remain hopeful that the return to individual training for England players and the opening of some nets at community clubs, is a signal that with the right protocols, we might yet see some domestic cricket played this summer.

“Once again, I’d like to extend the club’s thanks to our members for their patience and understanding during these challenging times of uncertainty. In line with other counties, we plan to review our Membership packages once we have greater clarity on what a shortened season this summer might look like.

“We will be contacting all members and match day ticket purchasers within the next week with further information on their options, in light of this new announcement.”

The 2020 season was supposed to begin in mid-April.

The ECB’s latest announcement, on Thursday, backed up reports this week that they might consider a regionalised tournament, among other ideas up for consideration.

Their statement said: “ The Professional Game Group (PGG) will look to outline a number of opportunities for domestic play, which will be presented to the ECB Board in June.

“These plans include a number of options for both red-ball and white-ball cricket including matches played at all first class grounds, the use of a regional group model as well as consideration for matches played behind closed doors or with a limited number of supporters whilst strictly adhering to government guidance on social distancing.

“The working group is also exploring options where non-televised games can be live streamed for members and supporters.

“As the ongoing Covid-19 situation continues to evolve, these scenarios will be worked on and assessed. Learnings from the return-to-training programmes for England men’s players will be incorporated, in addition to those sourced from any international matches played behind closed doors.”

The ECB have already announced that the new city-based tournament The Hundred won’t be played this year. That was originally scheduled to start on July 17 and was to feature Kent captain Sam Billings but all player contracts have been terminated.

The Kent Cricket League and the Kent Regional Cricket League are both hoping to play half of their fixtures this season, starting in July.

The recreational game remains suspended until further notice although training at facilities can take place, within the current government guidelines on social distancing.

The ECB say they will “seek to progress discussions with the UK government to begin mapping out a return, including the potential for an earlier return of junior cricket.”

ECB chief exec Tom Harrison said: “Naturally we want to see cricket being played at every level.

“We remain hopeful of seeing both domestic and recreational cricket this season and planning with the PGG has allowed us to map a number of potential scenarios for domestic play.

“Whilst traditional formats of our competitions are the preference, we are not against exploring the unorthodox to ensure that we can return our players to the field.

"That can only happen though when it is safe, and we have said throughout this crisis that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the game is our key priority.

"Across the recreational game it has been heart-warming to hear of clubs where players have returned to the nets. As children start returning to school in the coming weeks, we look forward to exploring how those guidelines and learnings can be deployed for cricket. This can then see the recreational game continue its phased return as soon as we have government approval."

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