Former England captain Alastair Cook has said that he would prefer a season without the County Championship to playing a greatly reduced version of the competition.
The first seven rounds of Championship cricket have already fallen victim to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, with the ECB announcing last week that no professional cricket will be played before May 28.
When it is possible to resume playing, chief executive Tom Harrison has made clear that the more lucrative domestic competitions will be prioritised, meaning the T20 Blast and the Hundred would take precedence over the Championship.
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That means there could be limited time in which to play the Championship, and Cook – who won the competition in 2017 and 2019 with Essex – said that he would rather wait a year to defend the title than have to do so in an abbreviated season.
“In this year, over the next six months, the bigger picture is the most important,” Cook told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Whatever happens, if we do play any sort of cricket which hopefully we will, what I hope is that they don’t try and have a six-game County Championship or something like that. I would rather have one or two full tournaments, because if you do then play that tournament or two tournaments it is so much more rewarding to win it.
“If there is not time for a meaningful County Championship, say [you can only play] three or four games, there is probably not much sense us having it.
“I would rather concentrate on two full tournaments than saying: ‘We have four tournaments that we need to play, let’s get them all in even if we have to shorten them.’ I think you would rather have two tournaments played full length so there is meaningful cricket at the end of it.”
Previously, Essex’s chief executive Derek Bowden had suggested that “there is an opportunity to be creative with the schedule”, raising the possibility of playing a regional four-day competition instead of attempting a Championship season.
“Let’s look at regional four-day cricket, maybe four or five regional competitions with round-robin four-day cricket,” he told Sky Sports.
“Spectators and members would love that and it would also give us some four-day cricket to support England’s Test series in a very tight schedule.
“Essex could play Kent, Middlesex and Surrey, while Yorkshire could play Lancashire, Durham and one other team, maybe Nottinghamshire.”