Over on ESPNCricinfo, Senior correspondent George Dobell yesterday laid out the dilemmas facing the ECB board as they meet today with cricket facing an unprecedented crisis due to Coronavirus.
There are question marks over all aspects of the men’s game – Tests, ODIs, the County Championship, The Hundred, The Blast… the list goes on! Men’s cricket is in desperate, desperate trouble. Although it has emerged that the ECB has some insurance against the impact of a global pandemic, this is limited and unlikely to pay out for months, if at all – with the insurance industry itself staring down the barrel of a smoking volcano.
The men’s counties meanwhile are… to put it politely… absolutely stuffed. Most of them live year-to-year with few reserves, and none of them are in any position to meet their obligations without the ongoing income from a combination of TV, gate receipts and hospitality. If the season were to be totally cancelled, several would likely go bust, with the ECB looking on helplessly from the sidelines.
Given this situation, it is understandable that the priorities at the forefront of people’s minds are to try to get some men’s cricket – any men’s cricket – played this summer, with talk of “biosecure” internationals and domestic cricket being live-streamed from behind closed doors.
But while the men desperately debate science-fiction solutions, the women’s game risks being totally forgotten.
Yes, technically, The Hundred is women’s cricket; but while all the talk has been about male players potentially losing their lucrative big-money contracts, no one seems to have quite clocked that for the majority of female players, The Hundred was going to be their only source of cricketing income this year – without it, they will be back to their pre-KSL status – 100% amateur.
The problem is magnified when you remember that the Centres of Excellence, which were supposed to offer full-time professional domestic contracts to an additional 40 non-England players, have essentially been put “on hold”. Although no contracts had been signed, several players were led to believe they would be getting one of these deals, and so not unreasonably put off other life decisions on that understanding. While the long-term investment is secure, as far as the players are concerned they now look set to get a big, fat cheque for absolutely nothing until next year at least.
Even what remains of national level women’s county cricket – the T20 Cup – has been pretty much ignored. We assume it counts as “recreational” and has therefore been effectively cancelled on that basis, but as far as we are aware no one has officially come out on the record and said so, and the fixtures are still listed on Play Cricket, the competition’s official web site.
In the fight to keep the men’s game alive, the women’s game is clearly not the main priority for many of those who have any influence on this situation. But nonetheless we’re still here – we still exist, we still matter… and we won’t be forgotten.