Dubai: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which is on the verge of staging the first international cricket series after COVID-19 pandemic with the Test series against the West Indies, has now announced the resumption of recreational cricket from July 11 after a green signal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. gave.
An ECB statement said the UK government’s announcement pertaining to recreational cricket applies at this time to England only. “The ECB is delighted that the UK Government has given the green light for recreational cricket in England to return from Saturday 11 July,” the statement said.
“The latest update from the UK Government signals progression from Step 3 to Step 4 of ECB’s roadmap to return for the recreational game, meaning competitive cricket matches in England with adjustments to respect hygiene and social distancing would be permitted.”
This makes way for the 2020 County season, which was cancelled from it’s initial start date of April 12, can now begin as scheduled on August 1.
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A final approval for the formats to be played by men’s teams will be approved early in July at a meeting of the 18 first-class clubs. Two competitions of four-day and Twenty20 cricket have been under discussion, based on regional groups.
The ECB’s announcement on Friday night came after Johnson made a U-turn after his earlier suggestion that teas and dressing rooms were among major obstacles in the amateur and grassroots game - a traditional feature of British summertime - returning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson made a U-turn from his reservation of return of recreational cricket, saying he “sought scientific advice” after being “stumped”.
“We do want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back, and we will be publishing guidelines in the next few days, so that cricket can resume in time for next weekend,” he said.
The ECB said it has maintained a constant dialogue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) throughout this process. “The UK Government have stated that COVID-secure guidance will be published in the coming days. Guidelines are already prepared for the return of recreational cricket and following the Prime Minister’s comments, will now be finalised and published early next week.”
ECB chief executive officer, Tom Harrison said: “We have had a responsibility throughout this period of time to work with the UK Government and to plan alongside the cricket network to try and mitigate COVID-19’s impact on the 2020 season.
“They (government) now agree that with appropriate measures in place to mitigate the risk, it is safe. We know how difficult it has been for everyone to go without cricket this summer, and we thank you for your patience.
“As the nation’s summer sport we believe we have a role to play in getting people active across the country, especially young people, and it is heartening to know that club cricket – albeit with social distancing in place and some other adaptations – will soon be back across England.”
England will take on West Indies in a three-match Test series, beginning at Southampton on July 8.