Uncertainty the only certainty for Northants chief Warren as cricket strives to start 2020 season

Gavin Warren says absolutely everything is being done to try to get the cricket season started at some point this summer.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 11:36 am
There is still no start date for the 2020 cricket season
There is still no start date for the 2020 cricket season

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the sporting calendar across the globe, and the English cricket season is no exception.

The 2020 campaign is currently suspended, and there will be no play of any kind until July 1 at the earliest.

Cricket bosses across the country are still hopeful that some sort of season will be played, and Warren says he is in almost daily contact with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) about what can be done to get things moving when it is possible.

Northants chairman Gavin Warren

One of the scenarios being considered to get matches played is to do so behind closed doors.

Northants bowler Ben Sanderson has said he and his team-mates would be happy to do that, and it is something Warren is also interested in.

But the Northants chairman admits there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to see if such a solution is even feasible.

“With playing behind closed doors, we don’t yet know what it means, or what it looks like,” said Warren.

The gates remain locked at the County Ground

“Professor Bill Ribbans, who is our chief medical officer at the club, is working with Nick Peirce, who is the CMO for the ECB, and he checks directly into Cobra.

“So we are working with Government to find out ‘what does behind closed doors look like across all sport?’ Not only cricket.

“Nick Peirce and David Mahoney (ECB chief operating officer) are charged with working out what playing behind closed doors means, because I don’t know, and they don’t know at the minute either.

“What does it mean in terms of staff? In terms of PPE?

“And there is also the question of what happens with polishing the cricket ball, where there has been suggestions of using a wax.”

One big issue for cricket is the that shining the ball is pivotal to the sport,and a crucial part of a bowling team’s armoury.

It is usually done by various players using saliva to wet the surface of the ball on one side and then shine it - and that is going to be a big no-no when the sport resumes.

“We have looked at what practise looks like, and we can do practise quite easily because we can give every bowler his own cricket ball,” said Warren.

“He can bring it with him, and then also take it home, but on a pitch during a game are we going to have to change the laws of the game to say each bowler has his own ball?

“It doesn’t work like that and it’s why we have to see what behind closed doors looks like.”

The ECB have stated they are confident of staging Test matches behind closed doors, by creating venues that are ‘bio-secure’ environments, at grounds that have hotels on-site.

“The idea with the international games, what they are thinking is that, for example, everybody would stay at the Hampshire hotel at the Ageas Bowl,” said Warren.

“All the staff, the players, the medics, the press, everybody would stay at the hotel and be tested every morning and evening just to check if they are okay and have no symptoms.

"Then they are in a combined space and the risk should be minimal, but what that means domestically for us at Northants we don’t know yet.”

Although there is no cricket being played, or even on the immediate horizon, that doesn’t mean Warren and his fellow administrators are putting their feet up.

“I speak to somebody at the ECB every day, or every other day,” said Warren.

“And I speak with my CEO (Ray Payne) every day to get the latest and find out where we are and what can we do?

“We talk about what can we do for the general public to make it safe for them, and for the players, and we are working on different schedules.

“We are working on the extremes, from the best case of starting in early July, through to the worst-case scenario of no cricket at all this summer.

“But it is primarily Government led, with public safety the number one priority.”