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Essex chief executive suggests regional four-day cricket with coronavirus hitting schedule

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Essex chief executive Derek Bowden says the ECB should consider regional four-day cricket in 2020 with coronavirus truncating the season

Essex chief executive Derek Bowden has suggested short regional four-day cricket tournaments could be staged in 2020 with coronavirus set to wipe out much of the season.

The first seven rounds of County Championship cricket have been lost with the pandemic ensuring the domestic campaign will not begin until May 28 at the earliest.

International and white-ball cricket are set to be the focus when the season does start but Bowden has a novel idea to ensure at least some red-ball cricket is staged this summer.

Jamie Porter of Essex celebrates taking a wicket
Image: Essex won the County Championship in 2019

Bowden told Sky Sports News: "There is an opportunity to be creative with the schedule, try and create opportunity from the crisis and be innovative about how we play the game and entertain.

"Let's look at regional four-day cricket, maybe four or five regional competitions with round-robin four-day cricket.

"Spectators and members would love that and it would also give us some four-day cricket to support England's Test series in a very tight schedule.

"Essex could play Kent, Middlesex and Surrey, while Yorkshire could play Lancashire, Durham and one other team, maybe Nottinghamshire."

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Nottinghamshire were due to play six Championship fixtures before May 28, with their Division Two campaign originally scheduled to begin at home to Leicestershire on April 12.

"I feel particularly sorry for our members and supporters as well as our players and coaches, who have all been eagerly looking forward to the new season," said Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell.

"It's a real shame the season won't be able to start promptly for the many club and recreational cricketers for whom cricket is an important part of their lives, and for those that attend our sessions in the community.

"We are in regular contact with the ECB and will spend the next few days working through the ramifications for us as a club, as a business and for the game of cricket in Nottinghamshire."

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Professional Cricketers' Association chief executive Tony Irish added: "All players are in this together and as their players' association, we now need to work for the players collectively in dealing with the ECB and the first-class counties to find solutions to the challenges ahead.

"Naturally, players have concerns around when they will be able to start playing again, about what the schedule will look like when cricket resumes and about employment security around their contracts.

"The PCA will represent them in dealing with these issues with the ECB and the counties and seek the right solutions and ones that are acceptable to the players."

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