Coronavirus: County Championship probably ‘a fair way away’, Rob Key says

Sky Sports pundit Rob Key fears the start of the new county season is highly likely to be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The County Championship is scheduled to begin on Easter Sunday – April 12 – but several teams have already cancelled or cut short their pre-season tours due to the spread of the virus.

Former Kent and England batsman Key told Sky Sports News: “I’m not sure when the next game’s going to be, I think that’s going to be the problem.

“I can’t see when the first game of our summer’s going to start. It looks like it’s going to be a fair way away maybe, the county season. The international summer generally starts that little bit later.

“But in the next couple of weeks we’ll get a lot more understanding of what’s going on. It just seems that we’re at the very start of something – it’s certainly not the end.

“You watch anything on TV from the experts and it seems like this is going to go on through the summer.

“It’s something we’re going to have to get used to. Sport itself is going to have to find a way to deal with it.”

The ECB’s domestic schedule comprises seven rounds of championship fixtures before the Vitality Blast gets under way at the end of May – with the launch of their new flagship competition, The Hundred, scheduled for July 17.

Key admits the ECB will be determined to ensure The Hundred, which includes several leading white-ball players from both the men’s and women’s game, goes ahead as planned.

“They’ll be desperate for The Hundred,” he said. “There’s been so much excitement around The Hundred anyway, you just want to make sure it has a fair crack.

“I think generally there’s no point putting on sporting events if nobody’s going to come and watch – you want to make sure you can provide something that’s entertaining.

“Those are the decisions you’re going to have to make with all sports. We’ll have to wait and see how the ECB do it.

“Counties have struggled for a while, that’s never been any different. They’ve always relied heavily on the broadcast revenue of companies like Sky and making sure the county game’s not decimated.

“Every part of our lives is going to be affected in some way, but generally in the long term I think it will be all right.”

England’s players are not due to return to international action until June after their two-Test series against Sri Lanka was called off on Friday.

Key added his support for the postponement of the Sri Lanka tour, saying: “No matter who you are – if you get ill, you want to be at home. That’s nothing against Sri Lanka.

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