England cricket chiefs unveil extra virus aid package


London (AFP)

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced an additional aid package to support the professional and recreational game during the coronavirus pandemic.

The cash injection of £35.7 million ($45 million) follows an initial £61 million of support announced in March.

The 2020 domestic season has already been suspended for several months. It will not start until August 1 at the earliest

Around £30 million will be released to the 18 first-class counties and Marylebone Cricket Club at the start of August.

Recreational clubs will continue to have access to the ECB's £20 million "Return to Cricket" scheme, and will also be given a 12-month holiday on loan repayments.

"It is the ECB's responsibility to protect the whole game's future during the financial uncertainty we face as a sport," said Tom Harrison, the governing body's chief executive.

International cricket will resume next month when England host the West Indies in a three-Test series.

Harrison said the game must reduce its cost base as cricket faces up to a "sobering reality".

"It remains our priority to get cricket started again this summer, from the grassroots to the elite level," he said.

"And we will continue to work with government to try and do that in a way that keeps people safe but that limits the ongoing impact of this crisis on our game."