No plans to shelve Royal London One-Day Cup despite Covid strain on counties

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tom Harrison, the Chief Executive of the ECB, says there are “no plans to draw a red line through” the Royal London One-Day Cup as English cricket looks to manage Covid-19.

The 50-over competition starts next Thursday in the shadow of the ECB’s new men’s and women’s tournament, the Hundred.

With the eight Hundred teams having squads of 16 men’s players, the One-Day Cup has been effectively been downgraded to development status, but remains important to counties and their fans.

Counties are losing many players to the tournament, but Covid-19 and isolation – both for positive tests and close contacts – has already been causing chaos in the English game. Derbyshire have seen a Championship match and two Vitality Blast games called off, while Kent and England have had to call up entirely new squads.

That has led some to question the viability of the 50-over competition, not least because Hundred teams would call up further county players to cover Covid cases.

But Harrison has said he expects the tournament to go ahead.

“I’m sincerely hoping it will be, absolutely,” he said. “There’s no plans to draw a red line through the RL50 I can tell you that.

“Look, what I think we’ve seen is how exciting county cricket is as a result of a reserve squad coming in and doing so well in the ODI series against Pakistan. We’ve got something to be excited about for players not involved in the Hundred and I think the opportunity for younger players to come through is a really exciting one.

“So I’m personally very hopeful we can play every game that’s scheduled to be played. I just think we have to be mindful of the fact the impact of Covid is out there but there’s certainly no plans at the moment to say we’re not going to play the RL50.”

How much England’s Test stars – who face India from early August – are able to play in the Hundred, remains up in the air.

“We are working through that at the moment,” he said. “Clearly we’ve got to make sure that we protect the India series but also it’s important they take part in the Hundred.

“The thinking is around their travel, their accommodation, how do we make sure they’re not in close contact with anyone outside of the environment, do we need to put additional protocols around them.

“I’m expecting them to play at the start of the Hundred, we just need to work out how many games that will be.”

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