The English cricket season may have to go on until late October due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to former England captain Nasser Hussain.
Last week, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that the county cricket season would not start until at least May 28 because of the coronavirus crisis.
Further delays are expected, with the country now essentially in lockdown and the public adhering to strict new measures brought in by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tackle the spread of the disease.
Hussain says ‘common sense decisions’ will need to be made by the ECB over the coming weeks and months and insists the English cricket season will need to be flexible.
‘If and when cricket does come back this year, it has to prioritise the most popular and lucrative forms of the game, whether that’s internationals, Twenty20 Blast or the Hundred, because the game is not well enough off to do anything else,’ he told Mailsport.
‘If that means the County Championship is put on the back burner, so be it. There will just need to be common sense decisions made to get as much cricket in as possible and to play as late as possible in the summer and even early autumn.’
Asked whether it’s feasible for the English cricket season to go on until late October, former England captain Hussain said: ‘Of course it is.
‘There would be problems with dew, early bad light and things like that but I’d rather that than over-crowding the calendar when cricket starts again to try to cram everything in.
‘People might say cricketers would have had months off by then, but they’re not machines. If you suddenly had them rushing up and down motorways when normality resumes playing every day it will lead to injuries and other problems.
‘They are elite athletes and will still need looking after. There’s a duty of care to the players but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t play on as late in the year as possible.’
Hussain also pointed to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, adding: ‘This is going to hurt the coffers hugely — but hopefully we can all get through it and come out the other side without losing any counties.
‘Cricketers will of course be worried about their salaries and whether they are included in the Government’s bail-out scheme but they are a pretty mature bunch.
‘You only have to look at social media to see that most of them are seeing the bigger picture.
‘It’s only a game of cricket after all and what is going on in the real world is a life-or-death situation.
‘So, if it means we only get half a summer of cricket we have to accept it while the game will do everything it can to try to keep everyone in a job if possible.’
Meanwhile, Durham and Kent have closed their grounds and offered them to the NHS and local council as the country continues to battle coronavirus.
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