Men's county cricket season set to start on August 1 after ECB approval

Monday 29th June 2020 16:15 BST

No professional cricket has been played in England and Wales so far this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, although England will face West Indies in a behind-closed-doors Test series from July 8.

The 18 first-class counties will meet in July to decide which formats will be played during the delayed campaign, which was initially set to start in April, with players permitted to return to training on or before July 1.

A commitment to play women's domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made.

ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: "It is a significant step for our game that we are able to approve the start of the men's domestic season for 1 August and one which will be welcomed by everyone connected with County Cricket.

"It follows extensive consultation between the 18 First-Class Counties, the Professionals Cricketers' Association and ECB and has only been achievable thanks to the significant hard work that continues to occur as we prepare for a domestic season unlike any the game has faced before.

"It must be stressed that the safety of our players, staff and officials has been the first priority through all discussions and Government guidance will continue to shape our planning and preparation."

The ECB had planned to introduce 40 full-time domestic women's contracts in 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, although 25 players have been awarded regional retainers.

On the return of the women's domestic game, Harrison added: "Planning remains ongoing, but our commitment to women's domestic cricket is unwavering and we look forward to sharing further news shortly.

"Our strong preference is that the women's new elite domestic structure starts this summer and we will work hard to ensure that happens.

"For this to be achieved, brand new infrastructure still needs to be rolled out, alongside imperatives we need in place when playing competitive cricket during a pandemic.

"Our first choice remains to do everything we can to start this year and build on the fantastic momentum in the women's game. In the event that proves impossible, we will explore other options for play to enable our women's players to enjoy competitive domestic cricket in 2020.

"We will continue to work closely with both the men's and women's domestic game to ensure necessary safety measures are in place to protect the wellbeing of everyone involved."

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