England could field two different teams on the same day at separate venues if the Covid-19 pandemic leads to a compressed home season, wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler has said.
England have suspended professional cricket until at least May 28 due to the global health crisis, which also looms over their home series against West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland.
“I think I saw (limited-overs captain) Eoin Morgan say everything has to be looked at as a possibility,” Buttler, 29, told British media.
“If it was logistically possible, I think you would get people wanting to watch.
“Is it an option? Could you put two games on the same day? Potentially you could, in different areas,” said Buttler.
“It’s right that it is being considered.”
Asked which format he would pick if different formats were played concurrently, Buttler said, “I don’t know, whichever one I got selected to play in.”
The World Cup-winning player also saw some merit in the idea of playing in stadiums without fans present. “We haven’t watched any sport for a long time, and we know how big an impact TV revenue has on the game and how vital that is.
“I know it would be very strange playing competitive sport without a crowd... but it would be nice for people who have been in isolation or lockdown for a long time to be able to see their heroes and role models back on the TV.”
Buttler also says he is “amazed” at the response so far to an auction for his cricket World Cup final shirt to raise money to fight the coronavirus. Buttler’s shirt, which he wore when completing the last-ball run-out that saw England beat New Zealand at Lord’s last year, is being sold to raise money for two specialist heart and lung centres. With a day left until the eBay auction closes it has already raised more than £65,000 ($80,000).
“There’s a day or so left on the auction as well so hopefully we can raise a bit more,” Buttler said in a conference call on Monday. “It’s a very special shirt but I think it takes on extra meaning with it being able to hopefully go to the emergency cause.”
The 29-year-old said there was a personal link behind his decision to support the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity – his wife’s aunt is head of paediatrics at the Royal Brompton in London. The worldwide spread of Covid-19 has brought cricket to a standstill, with the start of the English season delayed until at least May 28.
Lucrative tours to England by the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia are in doubt.
England’s centrally contracted players responded last week to the looming financial crisis facing the game by announcing an “initial donation” of £500,000 in support of the England and Wales cricket Board and good causes. That is the equivalent to a 20 percent pay cut for three months. The players’ decision followed the ECB’s announcement of a £61 million aid package for the English game and a 25 percent pay for board chief executive Tom Harrison. “Everybody is very aware of our duty as players to contribute where we can,” said Buttler. The Lancashire player was asked if the cash should support the Hundred, due to be held for the first time this year, but he said the players wanted their money to go to grassroots’ cricket.
“I think the Hundred’s a big thing that may or may not happen this summer,” he said. “It may get delayed. I know a lot of investment has gone into that.
“But as players we’re all very aware of the other effects this is going to have drip-feeding down into the game. Without grassroots’ cricket we’re nothing really.”
He added: “So I know the players are very strong on wanting that money to help that grassroots’ structure and pathway because we need to bring people into the game and make sure that is very strong.”
Yorkshire put cricketers on furlough in response to virus
Yorkshire became Monday the first English cricket county to announce they had put their players and coaching staff on the British government’s furlough financial aid scheme.
With the English domestic season delayed until May 28 because of the coronavirus and further postponements likely, talks have been ongoing between the 18 first-class counties and the Professional cricketers’ Association over questions of pay deferrals and wage cuts.
Under the scheme, the British government pays 80 percent of wages up to £2,500 ($3,070) per month.
The PCA had planned to announce a collective response following conference calls over the weekend but Yorkshire, the county of England Test captain Joe Root, broke ranks to say they had decided to opt for the furlough scheme on Friday.
A statement issued Monday said: “The Yorkshire County cricket Club’s players and cricket staff have been placed on furlough leave until further notice.
“This decision comes after the majority of the club’s non-playing staff were placed on furlough leave at the end of March in accordance with the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. “Following a board meeting on Friday, the club took the decision to furlough all players and coaches.
“Each player and member of staff in the cricket department were contacted individually by director of cricket Martyn Moxon on Friday night.”
Former Yorkshire and England batsman Moxon, acknowledging there was a “bigger picture than cricket and it is vitally important to stay safe”, explained the White Rose county’s action by saying: “From a club point of view, we feel that these measures need to be taken to ensure as little damage as possible to the business.
“The players are disappointed not to be playing as they have worked hard during the winter and have been excited about the season ahead.
“However, they are all fully understanding of the club’s decision and we hope that the situation improves as quickly as possible to ensure that everyone can resume some kind of normality as soon as possible.”
Premier League football clubs such as champions-elect Liverpool, far wealthier than their county cricket counterparts, have been widely criticised for taking advantage of the furlough scheme.
But there is likely to be less flak for the likes of Yorkshire given their record operating profit of £6.5mn last year was dwarfed by the pre-tax profit of £42 million posted by Liverpool in February.
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