Professional men's county cricket has been allowed to finally kickstart from August 1, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Monday (June 29).
Originally due to start on April 12, the season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All 18 first-class counties in the UK will discuss formats and number of matches to be played in the curtailed summer and arrive at a decision by early July. After which, a proper itinerary will be created for both red and white-ball versions of the domestic game.
“It’s a significant step for our game that we are able to approve the start of the men’s domestic season for Aug. 1 and one which will be welcomed by everyone connected with County Cricket,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement.
"It follows extensive consultation between the 18 First-Class Counties, the Professionals Cricketers’ Association and ECB and has only been achievable thanks to the significant hard work that continues to occur as we prepare for a domestic season unlike any the game has faced before."
“It must be stressed that the safety of our players, staff and officials has been the first priority through all discussions and government guidance will continue to shape our planning and preparation," Harrison added.
Players at the county level will continue to endure pay cuts upto 20 per cent in June and July, as clubs still feel the impact of the pandemic.
As far as the women's domestic game is concerned, there is the commitment made to have it played this season, but the plans remain at a discussion stage.
"Planning for the return of the women’s domestic game remains ongoing, but our commitment to women’s domestic cricket is unwavering and we look forward to sharing further news shortly," said Harrison.
“Our strong preference is that the women’s new elite domestic structure starts this summer and we will work hard to ensure that happens. For this to be achieved, brand new infrastructure still needs to be rolled-out, alongside imperatives we need in place when playing competitive cricket during a pandemic."
"Our first choice remains to do everything we can to start this year and build on the fantastic momentum in the women’s game. In the event that proves impossible, we will explore other options for play to enable our women’s players to enjoy competitive domestic cricket in 2020," he added.