Plans for a shortened domestic cricket season will be drawn up after the Cricket Board of England and Wales gave the green light to resume from August 1, while Dylan Frittelli became the latest golfer to retire from a PGA Tour event on Monday.
The 18 premium counties will now hold meetings to discuss what formats will be played, with only the inaugural edition of The Hundred removed from the 2020 calendar so far.
County cricket has been on hold since April due to the coronavirus pandemic, but England will return in July with three tests against the West Indies at the ‘biosafe’ locations of the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford.
Health and safety remain the primary concern for the ECB, which approved the return to training of top-class provincial players on or before 1 July, while a special working group has been set up to focus specifically on domestic details amid a public health crisis.
“It is an important step in our game that we can approve the start of the men’s domestic season before August 1 and are welcomed by anyone involved in cricket in the region,” said ECB CEO Tom Harrison.
“It follows extensive consultations between the 18 premium counties, the Professionals Cricketers’ Association and the ECB and is only achievable thanks to the significant hard work that continues as we prepare for a domestic season like no other game has ever experienced.
“It should be emphasized that the safety of our players, staff and officials has been the number one priority in all discussions and that government guidance will continue to be our planning and preparation.”
Surrey and Lancashire are the only two counties that have not fired playing staff in recent months, and they will be back in action with two-day friendly matches against Middlesex and Yorkshire, respectively, by the end of next month.
PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell said that all players who hesitate to come back will have the opportunity to opt out.
Mitchell said, “The health of our membership remains our number one priority and no player should be required to return to work if they are uncomfortable due to underlying health issues or other factors, such as living with vulnerable people.
“We insisted on an ‘opt-in’ process with the ECB and the provinces so that players can fully understand the protocols set in place to mitigate risks and those who cannot yet return feel comfortable not to write.”
Harrison added that the planning for the return of the domestic women’s competition was “underway”.
Frittelli, meanwhile, has become the latest golfer to test positive for coronavirus and will miss the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
In a statement on the official PGA Tour website, Frittelli said, “I don’t experience any problems and feel physically great and was surprised and disappointed when I heard the positive test today.
“I am grateful for the WHOOP report of a slight increase in my respiratory rate at night.
“However, I am very grateful for the assistance, procedures and protocols of the tour, which I will continue to follow during my self-isolation, to keep everyone safe.”
Nick Watney was the first player to test positive for Covid-19 after his opening round at the RBC Heritage earlier this month before several players withdrew from last week’s Travelers Championship.
Elite athletes in Scotland have been allowed to resume indoor and contact training according to safety protocols.
The move to normality has been endorsed by the Scottish government as part of its roadmap beyond the coronavirus lock.
SportScotland has published guidelines for a range of sports after easing training restrictions for performance and professional athletes, coaches and support staff.
The details follow news that Scottish Premiership football clubs have been allowed to resume contact training from Monday.
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