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No professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least July 1 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ECB have confirmed, while there will be a Board meeting next Wednesday (April 29) to discuss the future of The Hundred.

The governing body had previously announced that no cricket would be played until May 28 but that date has now been an extended. An ECB Board meeting on Thursday (April 23) approved a number of measures which would significantly restructure the English season should some cricket be possible this summer.

If matches can begin, they will likely be played behind closed doors without supporters in "bio-secure" grounds to ensure the safety of all those involved in the matches. The ECB have already started planning for such eventualities but even then, government approval would be necessary before any matches could take place.

Any revised schedule will focus on playing international cricket and the Vitality T20 Blast, the two most financially important forms of the game as the ECB look to minimise their financial losses. The ECB previously said that The Hundred would also be prioritised but that position has now changed which suggests the new competition will, at the very least, be postponed until next year. A further Board meeting will be held next week dedicated to discussing future of The Hundred.

The ECB hope for a window of international cricket between July and the end of September with the three Tests against West Indies, originally scheduled for June, pushed back as well as the women's ODI and T20I series against India. It is possible Test and limited overs series will run concurrently, albeit with matches played on different days.

In terms of domestic cricket, the Vitality T20 Blast, which was set to begin on May 28, will be pushed back as late into the season as possible to give it the best chance of being played with the ECB recognising the importance of that tournament's revenue for the 18 first-class counties. All group matches scheduled for June will be rearranged for later in the season.

The ECB Board also approved the concept of having blocks of red and white ball cricket in a revised schedule. Nine rounds of fixtures will be lost in the County Championship up to the beginning of July which means any red-ball cricket would be on a very different basis to normal. One option is for the Championship to not be contested and matches played as friendlies simply to get some red-ball cricket in.

ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said: "As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority - over and above the playing of professional sport - will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole over. That's why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it's safe to play. Our schedule will only go ahead if Government guidance permits.

"Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us shape 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."
 
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