Pre-season preparations thrown into turmoil as ECB suspends 'all forms of recreational cricket'
The England & Wales Cricket Board have announced a suspension 'of all forms of recreational cricket' until further notice.
The move, which has been made off the back of the latest Government advice on the coronavirus pandemic, includes all practises, pre-season training and 'any associated cricket activity'.
The decision will affect all clubs currently preparing for the beginning of the Hevey Building Northants Cricket League season, which is due to begin on April 25, as well as youth teams, village cricket sides and school teams.
The ECB have already stated that start to the first-class season, due to begin on April 12, could be delayed, or have matches played behind closed doors, and they have now decided to shut down recreational cricket.
The statement on ecb.co.uk reads: "Following the Government’s latest advice around social distancing, it is with sadness and reluctance that we recommend that all forms of recreational cricket are for now suspended.
“This extends to training, pre-season friendlies and any associated cricket activity.
“Sport plays an absolutely vital role in the nation’s mental and physical wellbeing, and it helps people find meaning where there is fear and uncertainty, so one of our goals in the coming weeks will be to explore ways that we can support some levels of physical activity in communities - particularly at junior levels.
“Using our cricket community to support others could be one of the most important services we can offer during the difficult next few months.
“It will be critical that any decisions we do make are medically-led.
"And we will continue to work with Government and their advisers to ensure we are informed by science in our decision making.
“Over the coming weeks we will work with the game to understand what support is required across the cricket community, particularly local clubs and leagues - who will have such a huge role to play in our nation’s response to coming out of this situation.”
Northamptonshire had already announced on Tuesday that they had suspended all the club's junior pathway sessions, as well as activity inside the club's indoor cricket centre on Abington Avenue until Easter, which falls on the weekend of April 11/12.
The Northants statement read: "Following government advice Northamptonshire County Cricket Club has decided to suspend all Junior Pathway sessions as well as activity in the Indoor Cricket Centre in response to the developing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sessions and bookings will initially be suspended for a period up to and including Easter with the situation being closely monitored during that time.
"This decision wasn’t taken lightly; but the health and safety of the NCCC cricket family is the Club’s primary focus. Northamptonshire CCC will continue to work closely with and take advice from relevant government and ECB sources."