Sat, 30 May 2020

England bowlers were set to report for training on Thursday, leading the way as cricket chiefs step up plans to start a season heavily delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The global health crisis has put matches on hold in England until 1 July at the earliest while in other countries the season is already over.

Despite the pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is still planning to stage a full home international programme, starting with a three-Test series against the West Indies, which was originally scheduled for June.

The ECB announced that up to 18 bowlers would be involved from Thursday.

Edgbaston, Hove, Old Trafford, the Oval, the Riverside, Taunton and Trent Bridge will stage at least one session, before batsmen and wicketkeepers become involved from 1 June.

The bowlers' identities have yet to be made public but the choice of venues indicates that James Anderson (Old Trafford) and Stuart Broad (Trent Bridge) will be among the leading England bowlers training at their home county grounds.

Bowlers will have to bring their own kit, including designated cricket balls, wash their hands regularly, and clean any equipment used with disinfectant wipes.

England managing director Ashley Giles said last week he wanted the training sessions to be safer than a trip to a supermarket.

As well as the West Indies Test series, England's cricket schedule includes three Tests against Pakistan and limited-overs matches against Australia and Ireland, with the fixtures set to be played behind closed doors at bio-secure venues.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has warned a season without any matches at all could cost the board Pound 380 million ($465 million).

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