One-Day Cup under threat as Covid wreaks havoc on teams

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 (Rishabh Pant)
(Rishabh Pant)

The summer of cricket sits on a knife-edge due to the spread of Covid-19, with doubts over the viability of the Royal London One-Day Cup existing alongside the Hundred and India’s Rishabh Pant in isolation having tested positive for the virus.

India assemble in Durham today and are due to play a three-day match against an ECB XI from Tuesday, although quite who will provide the opposition, with the English game already so stretched, is unclear.

Pant, who is asymptomatic, will not join the squad yet, as he is in isolation for another few days. Since they lost the World Test Championship Final to New Zealand last month, the India squad have been left to their own devices in England.

Pant, for instance, attended England’s last-16 Euro 2020 victory over Germany at Wembley last month, while Ravichandran Ashwin turned out for Surrey — taking six wickets — in their draw with Somerset this month.

The five-Test series against England begins at Trent Bridge on 4 August and is of huge financial value for the ECB.

So as not to imperil that series, the ECB could withdraw England’s Test stars from the competition, which would be a further blow.

The tournament lost another raft of top-class overseas players yesterday, with Ellyse Perry, Keiron Pollard and Andre Russell the latest to pull out. The Hundred women’s competition begins on Wednesday, with the men kicking off 24 hours later.

It remains unclear how the ECB will work their bubble conditions for the tournament, with track and trace and positive tests wreaking havoc in the county game.

Kent, like the England men’s ODI team, had to find a completely new side to face Sussex this week, while Derbyshire’s game against Essex, as well as their last two Vitality Blast games, were called off.

The Royal London One-Day Cup — the only men’s domestic 50-over competition — already had a developmental feel, but faces being further decimated if the Hundred needs to call up more county players to make up numbers. It is possible that the tournament could be called off before it begins next week.

Meanwhile, England Women last night completed their multi-format series victory — by 10 points to six — over India, with an eight-wicket win in the final T20 at Chelmsford. England limited India to 153 before an unbeaten 89 from Danni Wyatt (above) saw England home with eight balls to spare.

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