ECB consider fielding TWO England teams at the same time this summer should coronavirus crisis ease as chief admits ‘this is the biggest challenge we have faced in our history’
- England could field two separate teams at the same time ahead of this summer
- Test series and an ODI series against Australia could be played at the same time
- ECB chief Tom Harrison revealed coronavirus is the board’s biggest challenge
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Two England teams could take the field at the same time later this summer if the coronavirus crisis eases enough for a truncated cricket season.
Joe Root’s Test side could face West Indies or Pakistan, this season’s proposed red-ball opponents, while Eoin Morgan’s white-ball World Cup winners face Australia, who are currently due here in July for a series of 50-over and Twenty20 matches.
But the chances of those matches taking place in front of packed crowds are receding, with ECB now strongly investigating the safety of staging any possible international or domestic matches this summer behind closed doors for a TV audience.
The ECB are considering fielding two separate England teams at the same time this summer
The moves emerged last night as the ECB announced an initial £61million emergency funding package from within their planned distribution budgets across the professional and recreational game while ruling out pay cuts for centrally-contracted England players.
‘It is no exaggeration to say this is the biggest challenge the ECB has faced in its history,’ said chief executive Tom Harrison in a conference call. ‘We are working around the clock to understand the impact on the game and we have taken these short-term steps to help counties and clubs get through the immediate impact.’
Now the governing body will continue looking into various schedules if cricket is able to take place for two, three or four months this summer, with Harrison raising the prospect of maximising whatever time is available by putting out two England teams.
Joe Root’s Test side are due to face either the West Indies or Pakistan in July for a series
Eoin Morgan’s 50-over World Cup winners are due to host Australia at the same time
‘The international sides due here are being very flexible, innovative and massively understanding,’ he said. ‘We are getting huge co-operation from other boards and we are thinking creatively about what the big moment might be when the nation comes back out.
‘We will have discussions in the next few weeks about getting crowds into stadiums but if that is not possible and we can still serve cricket fans in some way we will look into that. We will put the safety of players and those working at games at the heart of this.’
Harrison dropped the biggest hint yet that the Hundred, the ECB’s controversial new competition aimed at bringing a new audience to the game, will be shelved this year in favour of serving existing fans by prioritising the successful Twenty20 Blast.
ECB chief Tom Harrison has said coronavirus is the biggest challenge the board has faced
‘It is one of the issues we are grappling with,’ said Harrison when asked whether it would be worth staging the Hundred behind closed doors. ‘It is a strategically important competition for the game but it is at times like this when you go back to what is really important.
‘We are going to have county fans who won’t have seen any cricket and county players who will have been sitting around. We want them out playing cricket but no hard decisions have been taken yet.’
Harrison admitted he would be taking a cut in his annual salary of £719,000 while the crisis still grips the country and that the ECB are ‘exploring furloughing’ within the domestic game. But the top players will be exempt, with the chief executive adding: ‘There will be no pay cuts for centrally-contracted players.’
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