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Coronavirus outbreak: County cricket latest



The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic has led to the start of the English season being put back until at least May 28, and left many counties facing a potentially damaging shortfall in finances. How has your club responded to the situation? Here we will keep track of ongoing developments.


The club has been operating with a skeleton staff since first-team squad returned home early from tour of Zimbabwe. Reported record profits in 2019.


CEO Tim Bostock thinks that bigger counties are more likely to suffer significantly as a result of the crisis due to the fact a lower percentage of their income comes from the ECB, with events, conferences and hotels all contributing significantly in a typical year.

“They’ve got businesses that rely on income outside of ECB regular monthly funding – particularly I can think of Lancashire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, the Ageas Bowl,” Bostock told talkSPORT. “They’ve done the right thing, they’ve diversified so that they can survive without ECB income, but what that has meant is… that has fallen off the edge of a cliff through no fault of their own. That is a major challenge.

“A club like Durham – a larger percentage of our income comes from the guaranteed ECB income as a result of the new television deal, and therefore we are much less exposed. I can confidently say that what’s coming in is more than what’s going out.

“We absolutely are in a position where we don’t need to lay anybody off, and we don’t need to reduce anybody’s salary. Rather than reducing headcount and making savings, we took the view that we would support [our staff].

The club have closed the Riverside to the public and non-essential staff, and also offered use of the ground to the local council and the NHS.


Executive directors have voluntarily agreed to a short-term pay cut of 20% and are in talks with local council to discuss terms of a loan repayment, among other measures.

“We feel these are exceptional circumstances,” chief executive Simon Storey told ESPNcricinfo. “We will find a way through this for Kent.”


Chief executive Daniel Gidney has issued a statement to members, signalling his intention to keep hold of staff where possible.

“We’re carrying that large staff payroll – when the turnover drops off like that and the phone just stops ringing, that has a catastrophic short-term effect on any organisation,” Gidney said. “We have some difficult measures to make, we have some cost-cutting to do, but we’re doing everything we can to protect our biggest asset which is our staff.”


The club had been due to hold its AGM on March 26 but, on legal advice, the meeting was opened and then adjourned until a later date. Staffing at Grace Road has also been reduced to “minimal levels”.

Leicestershire’s chairman, Mehmooda Duke, said: “We have an extremely hardworking group of staff and we have always built our own sense of cricket family, our own ways of working, and strong procedures over the years. Together, we have to keep the foundations of that family strong and work hard to support each other in every way we can.”


Alex Wakely‘s benefit year has been pushed back to 2021. “We’d put a lot of work into it and most of my events were ready to go and we were in a really good place,” he told the Independent. “But ultimately regardless of anything, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it.”


Head coach Jason Gillespie has flown back to Australia, and is currently in self-isolation. “I get packages of supplies dropped off by my family,” he told the Sussex website. “I hear the doorbell ring and go to the door where I see the family standing 30 feet away.”


Players have been ringing elderly members to make sure they are coping with self-isolation. “The main takeaway we both took from the conversation was that perspective at times like these is really important,” said batsman Adam Hose after one call. “You have to take a step back and be really thankful for the things you do have.”


Announced on March 26 the decision to furlough “a large proportion” of staff. The club will continue to operate with a skeleton staff during the ongoing period of lockdown.

Chief executive Mark Arthur said: “At this unprecedented time, we have taken this positive step to protect jobs at the club. By taking advantage of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, we are able to preserve jobs at Yorkshire during such a difficult financial period.”

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Daren Sammy, Chris Gayle raise voice against racism in wake of George Floyd killing



Former West Indies captain Daren Sammy and senior batsman Chris Gayle have become the first active cricketers to join a growing number of sports personalities worldwide in publicly raising their voice against the scourge of racism following the custodial killing of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman in Minneapolis.

Sammy, in a series of tweets on Monday, urged both the ICC and cricket boards to stand up against the “injustice” of racism against “people of color”, an issue that his former team-mate Gayle said was prevalent in cricket.

On Tuesday, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara also put out a thread of eight tweets on the issue, saying that the events in the USA were a “powerful lesson to us all”.

Floyd, 46, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 – a death now officially classified as homicide after a white police officer had held him down with his knee on his neck for over eight minutes while he was handcuffed. The incident, captured on video, has sparked widespread, angry protests across the USA.

Several sportspersons have spoken out since then, with basketball great LeBron James putting out a social media post referencing Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who famously kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. On Monday, English Premier League football side Liverpool also “took a knee” while prominent players in the German Bundesliga wore t-shirts in solidarity with the protests.

“Right now if the cricket world not standing against the injustice against people of color after seeing that last video of that foot down the next of my brother you are also part of the problem,” Sammy tweeted.

Sammy said he was “frustrated” that black people continued to suffer on a daily basis and cricket needed to voice its protest. “Can you be part of the change by showing support? @ICC and all the other boards are you guys not seeing what’s happening to ppl like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind. This is not only about America. This happens everyday.”

The ICC said that it has always condemned racism and had “zero tolerance” towards it. “As part of the Code [of Conduct], the players not only get punished, but also have to go through an education programme to promote a better understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed. There is also a conciliation element to the proceedings,” the ICC told ESPNcricinfo, when approached for a comment. “We have a zero-tolerance policy towards this sort of conduct and it can be punished with a lifetime ban. We provide guidelines to our members and we also make it clear that no discriminatory behaviour of any kind will be tolerated by anyone at the event – staff, media, fans etc.”

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) tweeted a picture of Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid hugging, captioned: “We stand for diversity. We stand against racism.”

Gayle said he had received “racial remarks” during his travels across the globe and that was only because “I’m Black.”

“Racism is not only in football, it’s in cricket, too,” he said. “Even within teams, as a Black man, I get the end of the stick.”

Sangakkara, in turn, called for a “world culture that has no place for ignorance and prejudice”.

Last November, England pace bowler and World-Cup winner Jofra Archer was at the receiving end of a racist comment from a spectator during the Test series in New Zealand. Archer later said that the person contacted him on Instagram. “I will never understand how people feel so freely to say these things to another human being. It baffles me,” Archer said. This January New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed that it had banned a 28-year-old man for two years from attending any cricket in the country following a police investigation into the matter.

Several players have been sanctioned under the ICC’s anti-racism code with former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed being a prominent recent example. Sarfaraz received a four-match ban last January after he admitted to making a racist comment to South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo during an ODI in Durban. Nambia allrounder Christi Viljoen was penalised by the ICC in June last year, for “inappropriate” sledges directed towards Uganda players at the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifiers.

Ian Bishop, the former West Indies fast bowler who is now a prominent television commentator, also spoke out on Twitter, saying that the world, in its current state, was in pain and needed help healing.

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Melbourne Renegades chief to report to Melbourne Stars’ chief



A restructure of Cricket Victoria’s (CV) Big Bash League teams for next season will see the Melbourne Renegades’ general manager reporting to the equivalent figure for the Melbourne Stars. This is a consequence of the clubs having to deal with major downsizing at the state association that has cost 60 jobs.

Both the Stars and Renegades have seen enormous upheaval since featuring in the BBL final in 2018 at Docklands in Melbourne. Both clubs had their boards dissolved and chief executives – Clint Cooper and Stuart Coventry respectively – moved on ahead of the previous season.

In their place, Nick Cummins, the former Cricket Tasmania chief executive, was initially assigned to a BBL head of commercial role that oversaw both clubs. Despite Cummins’ best efforts, it was an inherent conflict that is understood to have caused more than a few furrowed brows over the course of a season in which the Stars reached the BBL grand final once again but the Renegades’ men’s and women’s team results dropped off alarmingly.

Now, the clubs have been restructured once again in line with a raft of staffing cuts at CV, this time placing Cummins in charge of the Stars and the state association’s head of commercial, David Lever, in nominal command of the Renegades.

However, Lever will still report to Cummins, who retains overall control of BBL commercial activities. Commercial returns are another area of considerable concern for CV, as the departures of Cooper and Coventry in particular hastened the exits of the Stars’ major sponsor Optus, hot on the heels of the Renegades’ major sponsor Mars.

The Stars remain coached by David Hussey and the Renegades by Michael Klinger, but there has been a significant reshuffle too in the coaching ranks, as the Stars farewelled their women’s team coach Tim Coyle and the Renegades their women’s coach David Hemp, who had also been the head coach of the Victoria women’s team.

Lachlan Stevens has subsequently moved from a role as Victoria’s men’s assistant coach to head coach of both the Renegades women and the Victorian women’s state side, while Trent Woodhill, who has acted in numerous roles at the Stars, will now combine his post as the club’s list manager with coaching the women’s team.

“It’s a great opportunity and one I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to. I’ve been involved with the Stars for many years now and know the environment and the ethos well,” Woodhill said. “We’re backing ourselves to bounce back from some of the results in recent WBBL seasons. The competition is only getting stronger and we need to be stronger too. I’d certainly like to see a maiden finals appearance this season and win the title but there is plenty of work to do first.”

Andrew Lynch remains list manager of the Renegades and CV head of selectors. Lynch and Woodhill also report into the CV general cricket manager Shaun Graf. “Trent is well known to everyone at the Stars and in the Big Bash more broadly. I’m pleased he’s accepted this opportunity to move into a Head Coach position with the WBBL squad,” Graf said.

“Trent brings a deep understanding of the game and has demonstrated an ability to think differently and outside the box in the way we prepare elite teams to deliver on the field. I know Trent will be working hard with the current squad and any future new signings to deliver a highly competitive squad ahead of this season.”

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Rachel Priest loses New Zealand central contract



Rachel Priest has been omitted from New Zealand’s central contract list, while keeper-batter Natalie Dodd and seamer Jess Kerr have been awarded their first deals.

Priest, 34, won back her national contract last year after impressing for Western Storm in the Kia Super League and Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash, having been dropped by former head coach Haidee Tiffin after the 2017 World Cup in England, who cited fitness issues for her omission.

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But after a return of 60 runs in four T20 World Cup innings and no half-centuries since her recall, she has not been offered a contract for the 2020-21 season.

Priest’s fellow keeper-batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout has also made way, after being left out of the T20 World Cup squad, with Dodd – who debuted in 2010 and last played international cricket in 2018 – winning her first full deal following a year on a development contract.

Kerr, whose younger sister Amelia has been a New Zealand regular for nearly four years, has also been offered a national contract for the first time on the back of her tournament-record 20 wickets in last season’s Super Smash, which helped Wellington Blaze to the title. She was part of the squad for the T20 World Cup, playing in New Zealand’s opening game against Sri Lanka.

Bob Carter, New Zealand’s head coach, said that Kerr and Dodd’s contracts were “an acknowledgement of hard work and perseverance”.

“I’m happy the majority of our group can remain stable as we look for continual improvement and application from our players,” Carter said. “We have an experienced core of White Ferns and want to ensure our younger, less experienced players have the chance to learn from them over the next 12 months.”

New Zealand contract list, 2020-21: Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Natalie Dodd, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu.

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