Two start dates mooted for cricket’s return

The domestic season could start as late as 27 August in a bid to ensure that an entire county season doesn’t fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week the start of the season was put back to 1 August.

And The CC understands that there are two potential dates under consideration as the ECB attempts to begin a season that has already had its start date put back four times.

A first plan would see competitive action resume on 1 August.

The other would see another 26-day hiatus before domestic action finally gets underway on 27 August.

The season was originally due to start on the 12 April – a date that has since been put back three times as the pandemic has brought cricket to a standstill.

And The CC understands that there are two potential dates under consideration as the ECB attempts to begin a season that has already had its start date put back four times. A first plan would see competitive action resume on 1 August. The other would see another 26-day hiatus.

A report on Cricinfo earlier this week suggested that the seriously abbreviated season could incorporate both the T20 Blast and a shortened County Championship, culminating with a final at Lord’s.

A one-off Championship would see teams split into three regional groups – North, South and West – with teams playing a minimum of five matches.

A similar idea was mooted by Durham’s CEO Tim Bostock in an interview with the CC earlier this month.

The T20 Blast, meanwhile, would see counties play 10 group matches – five of which would be at home and five away – with the teams that finish top of the three tables going directly into Finals Day.

They would then be joined by the next best-placed side.

If the season did begin on the later 27 August date, it’s unclear whether that volume of cricket would be possible before the weather had its say.

A later start date coupled with a continued improvement in the pandemic situation could see small crowds return to both County Championship and T20 matches – a move which would hand a considerable financial boost to counties after the financial hardships they’ve suffered so far this year.