London, May 10 (IANS) Former England captain and Surrey Director of Cricket Alec Stewart raised concerns on the financial health of County cricket clubs amid the coronavirus pandemic and what a cancelled season would mean for young players. The English cricket season this summer has been delayed until July 1 (at the earliest) due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reportedly facing losses of over $450 million if all cricket is cancelled, it is speculated that the board could prioritise ensuring the completion of the England men's teams international series.
"If County cricket is not a cost effective exercise then I can understand why there would be opposition and the view 'why not save money and play next year?'. Tough decisions have to be made for the health of individuals but (also) the health of the game," Stewart is quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
Stewart compared the financial standing of County clubs to that of football clubs in England's third tier and fourth tier league and said that testing players before starting the season could be a costly exercise.
"Those tough financial decisions will not just be about this year but will be important for the next five years as well. In financial terms county clubs are generally on the same level as division one or two football clubs and everyone will find it hard if for example it costs £30,000 a week for testing twice a week," he said.
However, Stewart also voiced concerns of how the lack of a County season would affect the development of young players in the system.
"It could be another year by the time they play again. By then they may have gone 18 months without any competitive cricket," said the 57-year-old.
"A lot of younger players when they first leave school will go to Australia for the winter and play grade cricket. Will Australia be letting people in? We (United Kingdom) have the second-highest death rate in the world (from the coronavirus). If you flipped it and asked would we be sending our lads to somewhere with the second-highest death rate I think there would be doubts."