London, June 30: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the professional men’s county cricket season to begin on August 1. The ECB release said formats to be played during the delayed men’s county season are due to be agreed by the 18 first-class counties in early July, with a new fixture schedule to be published thereafter. A commitment to play women’s domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made, but may differ from the planned rollout of the new women’s elite domestic structure. The women’s elite domestic structure is the equivalent of the men’s county set-up and is formed of eight regions.
Establishing a structure for a new competition during a pandemic has provided specific challenges for the women’s domestic game, most notably having the required medical personnel in place to handle stringent return-to-play protocols. Preparation and planning for the season across the men’s and women’s domestic game remains subject to ongoing advice from government and medical professionals with the safety of players, staff and officials the first priority. The ECB Board has also approved the return to training of men’s first-class county players on or before July 1. Plans for the new men’s season include options for red-ball and white-ball cricket. A dedicated working group with representatives from the first-class counties and ECB has been formed to provide specific focus to domestic cricket, while COVID-19 continues to impact the game.