Alec Stewart prepared for the county's first elimination since World War II
LONDON: Surrey director of Cricket Alec Stewart reluctantly accepted that there could still be a long-term good for the county game if the coronavirus It means there is no domestic action this season for the first time since World War II.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has delayed the start of the 2020 English campaign until July 1 at the earliest.
And with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) facing a potential loss of £380 million ($471 million) if there's no Cricket at all, officials have made it clear that salvaging lucrative men's internationals, albeit behind closed doors, is their priority.
While far from happy at the prospect of a first season without county Cricket since the Second World War, former England captain Stewart told the Telegraph: "If county Cricket is not a cost effective exercise then I can understand why there would be opposition and the view 'why not save money and play next year?'.
Difficult decisions must be made for people's health, but (also) the health of the game.
Those tough financial decisions will not only be addressed this year, but will also be important for the next five years.
In financial terms, county clubs are generally on the same level as division one or two football clubs, and everyone will find it difficult if, for example, it costs £ 30,000 a week for testing twice a week.
Times in 18 counties and then that's a massive number.
The likes of Rory Burns, the Curran brothers and Ollie Pope they've all dropped out of Surrey's production belt and gotten on the England side in the final season.
But Stewart worries what a season without first-class Cricket might mean for player development, especially if English rising stars are unable to gain overseas experience later in the year.
"It could be another year by the time they play again. By then they may have gone 18 months without any competitive Cricket ," he said.
"A lot of younger players when they first leave school will go to Australia for the winter and play grade Cricket ," added the 57-year-old Stewart.
Will Australia be letting people in? We (Britain) have the second-highest death rate in the world (from the coronavirus).
If you turned it around and asked if we would send our boys somewhere with the second highest death rate, I think there would be doubts.