The Hampshire Cricket League has abandoned its entire summer programme for the first time in its 48-year history due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The league’s 299 teams were due to have begun their 17-rounds of matches four weeks ago on 9th May, but long before then, the ECB suspended all domestic cricket countrywide.

That suspension now extends to at least 1st August, leaving only five weeks of the season left and making it impossible for the Hampshire League’s teams to play anything other than friendly matches if they even get the chance to do that.

League chairman Denis Emery explained: “We decided a while ago that if restrictions were to be lifted, we could play by 27th June, we would complete the second half of the season over an eight-week period in July and August, with promotion and relegation between our 17 divisions being administered”.

“Directly the ECB extended the suspension of domestic cricket – initially until 4th July and now 1st August – we could obviously not fulfill even half the season, so reluctantly we’ve had to abandon the league altogether”.

“As soon as we get a restart date, the HCL committee will inform clubs and will be available to help with any queries to get games on”.

“We will also soon send out a COVID-19 questionnaire for clubs’ feedback on their preparations ready for a start”.

“We are all fully aware there is a far bigger picture here with this pandemic and can just hope that, if the barrier is lifted and they get the opportunity, clubs can arrange friendly matches between themselves and get some desperately needed income into their coffers.”