The National Counties Cricket Association have announced that there will be no competitive cricket played in 2020.
This season was scheduled to be the first under the auspices of the NCCA, who succeeded the Minor Counties Cricket Association during the winter, but complications caused by the Coronavirus have made it difficult for officials to produce a revised fixture list that would be meaningful and competitive.
Although the three-day National Counties Championship was cancelled last month, NCCA officials had hoped that it might be possible to find slots for either the 50 overs Trophy or T20 competition, which were both postponed earlier in the season, towards the end of the summer.
But the 20 National Counties voted 11-9 to cancel all competitive cricket this season at an online meeting on Monday, a decision that was endorsed by the NCCA Board and approved by the ECB’s Cricket Committee on Tuesday.
Counties have been given approval to arrange friendlies against neighbouring counties, while adhering to UK Government social distancing guidelines, should they wish but there will be no competitive cricket played at this level for the first time since 1945.
“The over-riding feeling is one of disappointment. We were looking forward to a brand new era but, sadly, a combination of factors beyond our control, mean that it will not happen this year,” said NCCA Chairman Nick Archer.
“We had hoped that it might be possible to play either some 50 overs or T20 cricket later in the season and we had a meeting a month ago when a majority of counties expressed an interest in pursuing that provided that any competition was meaningful and competitive.
“We asked Richard Logan, the NCCA Operations Manager, to do some modelling and it became apparent that to have a meaningful 50 overs competition would take eight matchdays, and a T20 competition six matchdays.
“On that basis it was agreed that Richard should produce a schedule for a T20 competition which was sent to counties for discussion last week ahead of Monday’s meeting of the NCCA Members’ Forum.
“The vote was close but it was felt that there were a number of practical considerations such as availability of club grounds, the lack of catering for players and officials and the likely need for players to travel to and from matches in playing kit, that caused too much uncertainty.
“The NCCA Board supported the counties and the ECB Cricket Committee then agreed to the cancellation of all NCCA competitions in line with other national recreational competitions.”