The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Thursday announced a further delay in the start of the professional domestic cricket season by another month with no activity to take place before August 1 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest announcement does not cover the international matches and it is believed that England’s postponed Test series at home against the West Indies could still take place in July.

Earlier, the ECB had suspended all its domestic cricket activities till July 1 in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. “The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) can today confirm a further delay to the start of the professional domestic cricket season, with no domestic cricket to be played before 1 August,” said the ECB in a statement.

“The specifics of the season remain subject to ongoing advice from UK Government and health experts, but the ambition remains to host domestic men’s and women’s cricket across England and Wales later this summer.”

ECB is considering the use of bio-secure venues and quarantining players with matches likely be staged behind closed doors for the series. Several top England players have returned to streamlined outdoor training as well.

“As the ongoing COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, these scenarios will be worked on and assessed. Learnings from the return-to-training programmes for England Men’s players will be incorporated, in addition to those sourced from any international matches played behind closed doors,” said the board.

ECB CEO Tom Harrison said they are committed to start county cricket at the earliest.

“While traditional formats of our competitions are the preference, we are not against exploring the unorthodox to ensure that we can return our players to the field.

“That can only happen though when it is safe, and we have said throughout this crisis that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the game is our key priority.

“We have learned a lot and continue to learn about the safety protocols that would need to be in place to stage international cricket behind closed doors in this environment and those protocols will also need to apply to the domestic game,” the ECB added.

The England national team players resumed training in batches earlier this month, strictly following the government guidelines on social distancing.