The ECB’s Plans to Bring Cricket Back

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Like pretty much every other sport in most European countries, cricket has also gone on hiatus as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspended the sport in March and has expanded the suspension several times ever since.

With little more to do than waiting for cricket to return, maybe a game of Cricket Star at the Vegas Palms Casino, fans of the sport are on the edge of their seats. No doubt, so are the players. But there are still hurdles to overcome until the first player can step in the field on July 8th.

Secure venues

Last month, the press reported that the ECB’s medical team has been discussing with the government the possibility of restarting the sport in a safe environment – and that the operation was pretty complex.

There are only two grounds in England that have hotels with enough rooms to host not only the teams themselves but the officials and broadcasters, too: The Ageas Bowl in Southampton, and the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester. The plan is for these two to share all six Tests and all six of England’s one-day Internationals and Twenty20 internationals.

A shorter domestic season

The Hundred will be postponed until 2021, the ECB has previously announced, while the domestic season – if held at all – will be much shorter than normal. Right now, the plan is to start the season in September and the games to run until early October the latest.

According to several sources, the most optimistic scenario would be the Twenty20 Blast, all the games in the men’s international season, and some first-class internationals.

Without fans

As you might expect, it is unlikely for the fans to be able to attend the games due to the strict social distancing mandates in place. Depending on the authorities’ take on the matter – small gatherings of up to 500 people are expected to be allowed soon – fans may return to the grounds in limited numbers sometime in the fall. It is likely, in turn, that all the games will be played entirely without fans.

A major financial impact

Like all other sports, cricket has suffered losses during the forced hiatus. A few weeks ago, ECB chief Tom Harrison said that even if the Tests and a series of one-day internationals are played, the ECB will lose more than £100 this year. And if the season would’ve been scrapped entirely, the losses could be as bad as £380 million. This is, of course, the absolute worst-case scenario, with 800 days of cricket lost across the sport.

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