The start of the cricket season in England has been put on hold by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) due to COVID-19 (Coronavius) outbreak.
ECB made the announcement after Cricket Clubs sought advice from the governing body over whether winter nets, pre-season friendlies and ultimately the season could go ahead at all.
On Wednesday the board took the unprecedented step by suspending the recreational cricket just a month before the season is due to begin.
It is important to note, however, that the national governing body hasn’t cancelled the season altogether and that it’s likely that club cricket will commence once the outbreak is under control.
The ECB announcement read: “Following the government’s latest advice around social distancing, it is with sadness and reluctance that we recommend that all forms of recreational cricket are now suspended.
“This extends to training, pre-season friendlies and any cricket-related activity.
“Sport plays a vital role in wellbeing, both physically and mentally. One of our goals in the coming weeks will be to explore ways that we can support some levels of physical activity in communities – particularly at junior levels.
“Using our cricket community to support others could be one of the most important services we can offer during the difficult next few months.
“It will be critical that any decisions we do make are medically-led. And we will continue to work with the government and their advisors to ensure that we are informed by science in our decision-making. Over the coming weeks, we will work with the game to understand what support is required across the cricket community, particularly local clubs and leagues.
“We understand that countless hours of work from thousands of volunteers have already gone into getting ready for the 2020 season and we know how disappointing this will be. We are thankful for the huge role that volunteers play in local cricket, to ensure that the game remains at the heart of communities.
“We know that you and your clubs can play an important role in bringing your community together once we get past this period of time.”
The announcement does not apply to the upcoming domestic and international cricket events. However, the 18 counties will meet ECB on Thursday to discuss contingency plans in case the campaign is not able to start on 12th April with a round of County Championship fixtures.