England hoping to play six summer Tests at only two venues | Daily News


ECB's proposed new schedule no more than 250 people present at each match

England hoping to play six summer Tests at only two venues

The Ageas Bowl (pictured) would stage three Tests behind closed doors in July and August
The Ageas Bowl (pictured) would stage three Tests behind closed doors in July and August

England hope to play six Tests this summer at only two venues, in a new proposed schedule for the season that could exclude all county and women’s cricket.

The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford would stage three Tests each against West Indies and Pakistan under plans to hold all this season’s international cricket behind closed doors from July 8.

But it is looking increasingly likely England women’s proposed Test series against India — plus possibly the whole domestic county season — could fall victim to the coronavirus crisis.

The ECB have confirmed ‘positive talks’ that included input from captains Joe Root and Jason Holder were held with the West Indies Board on Friday and will be resumed later this week.

They hope the pandemic will have eased sufficiently in two months for Test cricket to resume at the two ‘bio-secure’ grounds with hotels on site — with the Hampshire venue possibly staging two matches against West Indies and Old Trafford the other one. Steve Elworthy, the ECB’s head of events, has been investigating the logistics of getting the matches played without spectators. He is confident international cricket could be held at the two grounds, with no more than 250 people present at each match. The Tests would be held back to back with three days between each one. The two venues would then — at the end of July and in early August — share the three one-day internationals against Ireland that are currently due to be held at Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and the Oval in September.

The next stage of the plan would be to welcome Pakistan in August for three back-to-back Tests — with Old Trafford staging the first two, then the Ageas Bowl the last one.

Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, told Sportsmail earlier this month that the ground he has been largely responsible for developing into a Test venue could stage more than one Test this year. Now he could be rewarded with three. The last part of the plan would see Australia visiting in September for the three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches against England that are currently due in July.

Sportsmail understands England’s players retain sufficient trust in the ECB to be positive about the hopes, with senior player Stuart Broad telling the Mail on Sunday he would be prepared to play behind closed doors if it is deemed safe to do so.

he West Indies Board, led by English chief executive Johnny Grave, are confident their players will travel as long as they are given the green light to do so. But they have said it will not be held against any player if he does not wish to take part.

Last week, the ECB postponed the start of their new Hundred competition until next season and they may also have to pull the plug on the County Championship and the T20 Blast.

That would be a huge blow, as would the lack of women’s cricket, but the ECB would at least be able to fulfil a chunk of the broadcast deal that keeps the sport afloat in this country if they can rescue the international programme for a TV and radio audience.

England would probably only be able to fit in one warm-up game, at the start of July.

– Daily Mail


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