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Cricket denied chance to be part of pilot event to test the return of large audiences this summer


Cricket denied the chance to be part of pilot event to test the return of large audiences despite its status as a summer sport… with ECB chiefs fuming at Government decision which will see New Zealand series take place in front of small crowds

  • Cricket has been denied pilot events to test the return of large audiences 
  • ECB chiefs are unhappy at the Government’s decision to overlook the sport 
  • It will mean the New Zealand series will take place in front of meagre crowds 
  • Lord’s and Edgbaston will be restricted to crowds of 25 per cent capacity


Cricket chiefs are unhappy with the Government after the sport was denied pilot events to test the return of large audiences this summer, an omission which will mean England’s Test series against New Zealand will likely take place in front of meagre crowds.

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Both Lord’s and Edgbaston have sold out for several days of the New Zealand Tests beginning on June 2 and 10 respectively, but will have to refund large numbers of spectators after neither was included on the Government’s list of 12 test events across the sport and entertainment industries.

The FA Cup final is on the list, with up to 20,000 fans expected at Wembley on May 15, along with the snooker World Championship. But cricket has been overlooked despite its status as the national summer sport and the fact grounds are spacious and largely in the open air.

Cricket has been overlooked as one of the sports to test the return of large audiences

Cricket has been overlooked as one of the sports to test the return of large audiences

Many supporters will have to be refunded with Lord's and Edgbaston left off the list

Many supporters will have to be refunded with Lord’s and Edgbaston left off the list

As a result, both Lord’s and Edgbaston will be restricted to crowds of 25 per cent capacity in line with stage three of the Government’s lockdown roadmap — around 7,500 and 6,000 respectively — for a highly-anticipated series against Kane Williamson’s New Zealanders.

Several counties are also lobbying the Government for permission to open bars and restaurants at their grounds when the County Championship begins next month. Outdoor hospitality is due to reopen in stage two of the roadmap on April 12 and the Championship begins three days later, with Surrey and Warwickshire among several counties keen to welcome members to their al fresco dining areas with cricket as a backdrop.

Meanwhile, Jason Roy has targeted a T20 ton after rekindling his love for the game during this year’s Big Bash.

Lord¿s and Edgbaston will be restricted to crowds of 25 per cent capacity in line with stage three of the Government¿s lockdown roadmap

Lord’s and Edgbaston will be restricted to crowds of 25 per cent capacity in line with stage three of the Government’s lockdown roadmap

Roy has top-scored in both of England’s games so far in India, following 49 off 32 balls in Friday’s first match with 46 off 35 in Sunday’s second. Now, with the teams level at 1-1 and three games to go, he wants to follow in the footsteps of Alex Hales and Dawid Malan — the only England players to reach three figures in T20 internationals.

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‘That’s my target,’ he said ahead of Tuesday’s match in Ahmedabad. ‘My job is to not mess about. To score a hundred in T20, you have to be ultra-aggressive.

‘You’ve got to start in sixth gear up to the sixth over, then go down the gears, then up again.’

Roy needs only 15 more runs to become the fifth England player to reach 1,000 in the format, behind Eoin Morgan, Hales, Jos Buttler and Kevin Pietersen — though none of that quartet can better his strike-rate of 143.

And he says he has emerged stronger from a difficult year in which he struggled with lockdown life and failed to pass 32 in eight ODI innings after playing a starring role in England’s 2019 World Cup triumph.

‘The last year has been a huge learning curve,’ he said. ‘Dealing with emotions off the field can really cloud your judgment and make you overthink things.’

Jason Roy has targeted a T20 ton after rekindling his love for the game during this year¿s Big Bash

Jason Roy has targeted a T20 ton after rekindling his love for the game during this year’s Big Bash

Then came a stint with Perth Scorchers in the BBL, where he made 355 runs at 32 — and felt the blood pumping once again. ‘Since then, I’ve started really loving my cricket again. I’m going out there and playing in front of 60,000 adoring, screaming Indian fans, which is second to none.

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‘I never fell out of love with the game but playing in front of crowds makes you realise they mean a huge amount to us sportsmen.’

England remained unsure about the availability of fast bowler Mark Wood for today’s game after he bruised a heel during the series opener, causing him to miss Sunday’s match.

The game, along with the final two of the series, will be played behind closed doors amid concerns over rising Covid-19 cases in India.

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