English cricket return delayed until July 1 under new coronavirus plans

Professional cricket has been mothballed until July 1 at the earliest under new coronavirus contingency plans from English cricket chiefs.

A revised schedule has been drawn up by fixture boffins Alan Fordham and John Carr in the hope that a four-month season up to October can still be played if the government gives the resumption of sport the green light in time.

The three Test West Indies tour due in June will be rescheduled, likewise the entire women's white-ball series against India.

And by pushing back both international cricket and the domestic T20 Blast to later dates, the hope is that it will give them the best chance of being played.

Confirmation on the cancelling of 'The Hundred' for at least 12 months is still expected, but must now wait until Wednesday following another board meeting.

The big ticket events for the ECB and its broadcast deal remains the staging of international cricket against Australia, Pakistan, Ireland and the West Indies and they are all in the plans for the new look season.

The proposed venues could still change from a 'bio-security' point of view with a potential need for a group quarantine of players entering the country.

But international cricket on TV behind closed doors at least is the aim for July, August and September.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority – over and above the playing of professional sport – will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole.

"That's why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it's safe to play. Our schedule will only go ahead if Government guidance permits.

"Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us shape how we deliver this.

“Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play.

"The Vitality Blast will also now occupy the latest possible season slot to offer as much time as possible to play a County short-form competition.”

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