Mick Newell Remains Hopeful of County Cricket This Summer
Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell remains hopeful that all three formats of county cricket could still be played this summer.
The wait for anything resembling a normal sporting summer continues on with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announcing last Friday that no professional cricket will be played before July 1 as the country continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
The early weeks of the County Championship campaign have already been lost, amidst speculation as to what could be salvaged if it becomes safe for outdoor professional sport to start.
The ECB is aiming to schedule blocks of red-ball and white-ball county cricket should a season begin, and while circumstances dictate that no specific dates have yet been set for any revised schedule, the governing body did reveal the Vitality Blast will be pushed to the back end of the summer to give it the best opportunity to be staged.
While a return to action could be played behind closed doors, Newell believes any cricket at all, especially as soon as July, would give everyone something to cling to during lockdown.
“The hope is that we could still get three months of the season in,” he said. “And if that was to be the case, then perhaps we could still see three different formats used.“That certainly would please people, I’m sure. (Friday’s) statement from the ECB has given us all hope.”
Nottinghamshire, like many other counties, have taken steps to safeguard jobs and to look after their future by furloughing all but a handful of staff.
Lisa Pursehouse, the club’s chief executive officer, has written to all members explaining the procedure.
Meanwhile, an essential core of key workers have remained on duty, including Newell, head coach Peter Moores, physiotherapist James Pipe and head groundsman Steve Birks.
“We’ve tried to work week to week as a club,” explained Newell. “But now we know for sure that there won’t be any cricket for at least the next nine weeks.
“Hopefully, something positive will come towards the end of that period and by then we might be in a situation where we can start to see the players getting back into training together.”
Apart from the county scene, England’s international schedule is also set to be deeply disrupted, although Trent Bridge still clings to the hope that their programme of big matches may be cleared to go ahead.
England are due to play a Test match against Pakistan in Nottingham in late August, with a one-day international against Ireland to follow, in September.
The ground is also scheduled to host the final of the domestic 50-over competition, the Royal London Cup, for the first time.
But whilst every passing day moves us closer to a summer without cricket, there has been some suggestions that the county season might be extended into October or November with matches in Abu Dhabi.
“I’ve heard that it’s been mentioned,” said Newell. “And at the moment I don’t think anything is weird if it works.
“I don’t think any ideas are silly ideas because we all just want to see cricket, whether it’s fans, players or broadcasters.”