Former England captain, Michael Vaughan, has suggested the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) should consider a shortened County Championship season without overseas players for two years, in a bid to offset the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The ECB has extended its suspension of the professional game until July 1 due to the current situation, resulting in the loss of nine rounds of County Championship fixtures.
Citing a report from financial advisory firm Oakwell Sports, the BBC reported that counties will face losses of up to £85m if the season is written off altogether.
Vaughan, who captained England’s test team between 2003 and 2008, told the BBC: “You have to look at every area where you can save a few quid.
“Traditionalists will go mad at this, but these are unprecedented times. In the next two years, could you look at not having overseas players for the four-day game?”
With sports shut down on a global scale, the financial impact of the outbreak has seen contracts of overseas players cancelled or deferred by some counties, including Yorkshire and Essex.
According to Vaughan, reducing the number of fixtures in the County Championship would do no harm in the short term.
“Four-day cricket costs the game. It is a cost that could, just for a couple of years, be worth reducing,” he said.
“If you reduced it from 14 to 10 games, you’d miss the games but I don’t think it would be a huge problem for a couple of years.”
The ECB’s 100-ball cricket tournament in England and Wales, known as The Hundred, was due to commence in July 2020, but is now also set to be delayed.
The move is expected to be formally agreed at a meeting of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
There has been a growing consensus that postponement is not only the most realistic option, but also offers the greatest chance of a successful launch, albeit a belated one.
The stated aim of the Hundred initiative is to attract new fans into the grounds, and with behind-closed-doors games and the possibility of overseas stars being unable to travel, there are fears of delivering a watered-down product.
It is unlikely the Hundred concept will be cancelled outright, however, with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison reported as saying it was now more important than ever to push ahead and make it a profit-making project.