ECB delayed the start of the cricket season in England until July 1, with the Test series against the West Indies officially postponed.
The England and Wales Cricket Board initially delayed the campaign until May 28, decided at a board meeting held through teleconference on Thursday.
A decision was made to extend the hiatus by over a month, with senior international fixtures now affected and the number of lost County Championship rounds going from seven to nine.
The inaugural edition of The Hundred was discussed and, while it now seems practically impossible that it will go ahead this summer, the matter will be debated in greater depth in a dedicated session of the board on Wednesday.
Joe Root was due to lead a three-match Test series against the West Indies starting at the Kia Oval on June 4, followed by games at Edgbaston and Lord’s; however, the possibility of proceeding on schedule has long appeared impossible given the present state of lockdown.
England Women, led by Heather Knight, have also been impacted. They were due to contest two T20s against India at the end of June, followed by four ODIs, but that series has also been postponed.
With global travel, a highly-sensitive issue, the logistics of only getting a touring team to England might have proved too much, and no major sporting event will be able to take place without the green light from the Government and health officials. The ECB stays in contact with both as they look to plot a potential return to action.
The governing body’s modeling takes into account a number of options, approximately and including no cricket at all, however, all efforts will be made to restore as much as possible.
The Vitality Blast has been given priority among domestic competitions and will be allowed the latest possible slot in the calendar to provide it with the best chance of taking place, but there is a commitment to allowing for some red-ball matches if useful. The end of the season has been pushed to the end of September to allow more room.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison explained: “Our role as a national governing body during a crisis of this scale requires us to carefully plan alongside cricket’s stakeholders and supporters to attempt to overcome Covid-19’s impact on this season.
“As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the middle of a worldwide crisis, and our priority over and above the playing of the professional sport-will be to protect the vulnerable, workers and society as a whole.
“That’s why simply put, and there will be no cricket unless it’s safe to play.
“Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could look for to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us form how we deliver this.
“Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play. The Vitality Blast will also now occupy the latest possible season slot to offer as much time as possible to play a County short-form competition.
“I want to thank everyone involved in this complex and sensitive work. There have clearly never been times like this, and my colleagues at the ECB and across the game have been exemplary in this period.”