ECB update on return to play for men’s and women’s domestic cricket

Monday 29th June 2020

Men’s First XI

ECB update on return to play for men’s and women’s domestic cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has today confirmed:

• Men’s County season set to begin on 1 August
• First-Class Counties to decide on men’s formats to be played at a meeting in early July
• First year of women’s elite domestic structure under discussion; but women’s domestic game commits to play this season

The ECB statement issued on Monday 29th June, reads:

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the professional men’s county cricket season to begin on 1 August.

The formats to be played during the delayed men’s county season are due to be agreed by the 18 First-Class Counties in early July, with a new fixture schedule to be published thereafter.

A commitment to play women’s domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made, but may differ from the planned rollout of the new women’s elite domestic structure.

The women’s elite domestic structure is the equivalent of the men’s county set-up and is formed of eight regions. Establishing a structure for a new competition during a pandemic has provided specific challenges for the women’s domestic game, most notably having the required medical personnel in place to handle stringent return-to-play protocols.

Preparation and planning for the season across the men’s and women’s domestic game remains subject to ongoing advice from Government and medical professionals with the safety of players, staff and officials the first priority.

The ECB Board has also approved the return to training of Men’s First-Class County players on or before 1 July. Plans for the new men’s season include options for red-ball and white-ball cricket.

A dedicated working group with representatives from the First-Class Counties and ECB has been formed to provide specific focus to Domestic Cricket, while COVID-19 continues to impact the game.

The main objectives for this group are;

• To develop a single set of operating procedures that will incorporate cricket operations, venue operations and medical protocols
• To provide a single delivery model that can be implemented across all 18 FCCs and regional women’s teams
• To provide feedback and progress to the ECB Board and FCC Chairs

Kent Cricket’s CEO Simon Storey said, “We are all delighted with today’s confirmation from the ECB that the Men’s domestic professional cricket season will commence on 1st August. Whilst we must wait for specific details on formats and fixtures, this news marks an important step forward.

“We also welcome ECB’s commitment to play women’s domestic cricket this summer. Whilst there is even more uncertainty about the shape of the Women’s season, Kent is a stronghold of the Women’s game and it is important the growth momentum continues.

“Everyone has been working extremely hard to get to this position and we have a busy month ahead of us as we prepare for the new season. Even with a shortened season, we believe there is time for meaningful red and white ball competitions. So long as it is safe to do so, Kent Cricket is keen to be involved in all competitions.

“Our players begin a phased return to training from the 1st July to ensure they are ready for the 1st August. Their preparations at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence will be supported by the coaching and support team, where everyone will follow strict medical protocols, in line with guidance set out by the government and the ECB.

“Whether the season is behind closed doors or not, we are enhancing our live stream service to ensure that the action is available on-line. In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to our members, sponsors, partners and ticket buyers who continue to show immense patience and understanding.

“Once we have further clarity on what the season will look like, and whether members and ticket buyers will be able to watch any live cricket, we will update everyone via our website and social channels.

“I look forward to seeing the players take to the field this summer and I hope we are able to welcome a crowd back to watch Kent in action, as soon as possible.”

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.

“Planning for the return of the women’s domestic game 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.”