Staffordshire and Cheshire’s National Counties Cricket Association Twenty20 Cup campaigns have been postponed.
The coronavirus pandemic has already put paid to a host of sport – and the NCCA’s 20-over tournament is the latest to fall by the wayside.
The competition was the due to be the first cricket of the summer for counties, but NCCA officials have called off all matches.
That follows the ECB’s decision to suspend all first-class cricket until May 28 – and with the T20 scheduled to run before that, it was almost inevitable that games wouldn’t take place.
Staffordshire were set to face Cumberland at Blackpool on May 3, Northumberland at Rolleston on May 17, Cambridgeshire at Sawston on May 24 and Cheshire at Denstone College the following day.
Cheshire’s opening match was due to be against Cumberland at New Brighton on April 26, followed by games at Northumberland (May 3) and at home to Cambridgeshire (May 17) before their Bank Holiday Monday clash with Staffs.
The news means Sam Kelsall will have to wait for his bow as permanent Staffordshire captain after replacing Kadeer Ali, who stepped down at the end of last season because of work commitments.
Cheshire were under new leadership in the T20s as well, with Nick Anderson appointed skipper for that particular format.
There will now be concerns about the NCCA Knockout Trophy group games, which are planned in for June, going ahead.
The Championship schedule, which is in the diary for later in the season, will also come under scrutiny if the pandemic continues to keep a firm grip on the country.
Meanwhile, NCCA officials are in talks with ECB regarding the ‘Showcase Games’ this summer.
All NCCA counties have been given a home game against a first-class team in a 50-over contest as part of changes brought in to the structure.
Staffordshire entertain Leicestershire at Knypersley on Friday, July 17, with Cheshire taking on Warwickshire at Chester Boughton Hall on the same day.
All local leagues are currently on hold because of coronavirus and it is yet to be seen when, if at all, clubs will be able to take to the field.
A delayed start was always on the cards and officials have been putting plans in place to rescue some part of the season if it is deemed safe to play.
It would appear that playing for half a season at local level would be the best-case scenario for clubs, although there are fears that this may be too ambitious.
The Vivio Cheshire County League have already announced that there will be no promotion or relegation this summer if there is some cricket played.
That means the league structure remains in place for the 2021 season.
A CCL statement read: “If cricket does start, then we will obviously have truncated competitions in whatever form they might take given the time left in the season.
“We understand that clubs will be impacted by the current crisis in many different ways and also recognise that any truncated competition is more significantly impacted by weather.
“Consequently, we believe that because of this uncertainty the 2021 league season will start with every team in the same division as they were at the start of the 2020 season to ensure fairness and to positively discourage irresponsibility.”
The ECB, meanwhile, have a host of formats to juggle, with the County Championship, Royal London Cup and T20 Blast – as well as the debut season of the controversial 100 competition.
England’s summer programme includes Test series against West Indies and Pakistan.
They recently abandoned their two-Test tour of Sri Lanka because of the coronavirus.