No professional cricket will take place in England and Wales till May 28 in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) approved a seven-week delay to the start of the 2020 season following discussions with the counties and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA). The County Championship, which comprises four-day first-class matches, was due to start on April 12. The Champion County match, the annual curtain-raiser for the year, was to be played between the Marylebone Cricket Club and Essex later this month in Sri Lanka, but had been called off.

ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said: “The decision to delay the start of the season has been essential, given the circumstances the nation faces. With the information available to us at the moment, a delay to the start of the professional cricket season until May 28 was unavoidable.”

“Securing the future of the game will be a primary focus as we plot a revised schedule with an emphasis on the most financially important forms of the game for the counties across international and domestic cricket,” he added.

PCA chief executive Tony Irish, said: “These are unprecedented times which require the right decisions to be made for all, including everyone working, and involved, in cricket. The PCA supports this decision to delay the start of the season based on expert advice relating to health and well-being and taking into account the government’s position.”

Announcing this initial delay following a board meeting yesterday, the ECB said it was now devising three new schedules for possible starts in June, July or August, all of which still remain at the mercy of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It means the first seven rounds of the County Championship, due to start on 12 April, will definitely not take place as intended. And doubts remain as to whether the competition and the already diminished 50-over Royal London Cup, can take place at all in 2020.

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