Cricket is facing the most significant financial challenge in its history and will lose £380million if the season is wiped out by coronavirus.
That bleak picture was painted by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, who told Tuesday's committee meeting of the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport that the game would still lose £100m even if the plan to stage international cricket
from July goes ahead.
Harrison outlined the crisis facing cricket in a much more passionate and impressive manner than when he faced MPs last year alongside outgoing chairman Colin Graves.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison says they face a loss of £380m if no cricket is played in 2020. He was speaking at the Department of Culture, Sport and Media committee meetingRELATED ARTICLES
ECB face opposition from MCC and counties over proposal to... The Hundred is CANCELLED until 2021 in another blow to the... Ian Watmore has cleared a review into his appointment as ECB... 'It's highly unlikely we're going to go over there':... Share this article
And he launched his most robust defence yet of the new Hundred competition — which has been postponed until at least next year — in the face of what seemed to be grandstanding rhetoric from MPs rather than probing questioning.
Harrison has increased the estimated damage from the worst-case scenario for the English game, now saying the sport will lose £80m more than the previous stated figure of £300m if 800 scheduled days of professional cricket are lost.
‘It is the most significant financial challenge cricket has ever faced,' said Harrison. ‘We anticipate no cricket this year as the worst-case scenario and bda
that would cost £380m.'
But the ECB are still hopeful of staging a near full season of men's international cricket, with three Tests against West Indies starting on July 8 and three against Pakistan from August 5 — all at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford. The Ageas Bowl (pictured) could stage three Tests behind closed doors in July and August
The ECB also hope to switch their three-match one-day series against Ireland from September to between the two Test series, starting on July 30, with all three games in Manchester. ‘It would help us fill the financial hole even though we would still be looking at losses of £100m,' said Harrison.
It is thought fast bowlers, in particular, will need six or seven weeks to get ready from lockdown but the majority of England players are prepared to play behind closed doors.
‘Then there are the logistics of bringing overseas teams over and allowing them to prepare,' said Harrison, who will resume talks with the West Indies Board along with captains Joe Root and Jason Holder on Friday. ‘But hopefully we will be able to play a significant amount of Test matches this summer.' Harrison is still hopeful England can stage some Tests this summer 'to offset financial losses'
There was much interest on Tuesday on the ECB's insistence that the Hundred will play a crucial part in cricket's future and Harrison is not for turning despite considerable criticism of the invention of the chief executive and his marketing gurus.
As Julian Knight, chair of the committee, colourfully put it: ‘You've put the house on red and the casino has closed.'But Harrison is adamant the Hundred is not a gamble.
‘I understand there is considerable resistance to the Hundred, there has been for two years,' admitted Harrison. ‘That does not make it a bad idea or one that isn't likely to succeed. We will put even more effort into the Hundred post this crisis. I regard it as essential in the plan to grow cricket.'