English County Championship can begin on August 1, says ECB

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday gave the go-ahead for professional men's county cricket to start its season on Aug. 1.

The men's County Championship was initially scheduled to begin on April 12, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fixtures and format for the season are to be decided by the 18 first-class counties in a meeting in early July and plans will include both red-ball and white-ball cricket.

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"It's a significant step for our game that we are able to approve the start of the men's domestic season for Aug. 1 and one which will be welcomed by everyone connected with County Cricket," ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement.

"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."

Harrison added that plans for the return of the women's domestic game remain ongoing.

England's county cricketers will continue to take pay cuts of up to 20% in June and July as counties reel from the financial impact of the pandemic.

On the international cricket front, England return to action following the COVID-19 stoppage with three tests against the West Indies next month.

The first match is scheduled to begin in Southampton on July 8 without spectators.



(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams and Ed Osmond)

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