Cricket: Coronavirus could cost ECB £380m – Tom Harrison

The earliest date England could play a Test is thought to be 8 July

The impact of coronavirus could cost the England and Wales Cricket Board £380m, its chief executive Tom Harrison has told the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

There will be no professional cricket in England until at least 1 July and The Hundred – the governing body’s flagship new competition – has been postponed until 2021.

Speaking to MPs on Tuesday, Harrison added that 800 days of cricket could be lost by all professional clubs and the ECB.

“We anticipate, with no cricket this year, a worst-case scenario could be as bad as £380m,” he said.

“With a following wind, hopefully we will be able to play a significant number of Test matches this summer, which will helps us mitigate those financial losses that we are facing at the moment.

England are due to play West Indies and Pakistan this summer, with Ireland and Australia also originally pencilled in for one-day tours.

The ECB remains confident they can schedule some cricket, with planning under way for possible Tests against West Indies behind closed doors, followed by the visit of Pakistan.

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‘The Hundred can still be a success’

The ECB had sold 170,000 tickets for The Hundred, which had a budget of £40m in its first year and was to be partially shown on BBC television – the first time live cricket has been on the channel since 1999.

It has been pushed back until 2021 but Harrison believes the 100-ball competition, which was forecast to make an £11m profit this year, will still be a success.

“In terms of the position we put ourselves in for The Hundred, right at the moment Covid-19 struck, we were in a very, very strong place,” Harrison said.

“The game had never sold that number of tickets at that speed before, with the exception of the Cricket World Cup.

“We were in a very strong position to achieve exactly what we set out to achieve in terms of growing the audience for cricket in this country.

“The profile of ticket buyers was extremely encouraging – young adults and parents coming with their children.

“It’s a profit centre for cricket. It was going to bring in £11m of profit to the game this year. It carries with it an extra dividend to the counties, which is critical revenue to them.

“[It’s] doing exactly the job we wanted it to do.”

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