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Paul Farbrace: We’re all in the firing line due to cricket’s financial hit

Everyone working in cricket is “in the firing line” as the English game comes to terms with the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting financial fallout, according to Warwickshire’s sport director, Paul Farbrace.No professional cricket will be played in the UK until July 1 at the earliest as things stand, and while the ECB’s plans to host internationals behind closed doors were boosted on Monday as the government’s latest strategy indicated provisional support, the prospects of counties playing in front of fans this summer appear to be slim.Farbrace, who joined Warwickshire last year after five years as England’s assistant coach, told ESPNcricinfo that “there are going to be some tough decisions to make” over the coming months, as counties face up to the possibility of a full season without cricket.ALSO READ: Cautious PCB open to possibility of touring England”There’s no doubt that cricket is going to have to look very carefully and closely at itself and work out what the best way forward it,” he said. “Every single one of us is in the firing line – it doesn’t matter what position you’re in, every single club will look at its financial situation and work out what the best thing is to do.”The game is really in a tough place. The ECB have been fantastic, very consistent in their communication to clubs, and the support they’ve given financially across the board has been excellent.”But we all know that the ECB doesn’t have endless pots of money, and we all know that the game is taking a massive hit. All the time England aren’t playing, and Sky aren’t getting what they want, which is live cricket to show, there is going to be a knock-on effect across the board.”There will be 134 male players out of contract at the end of this season, while female players who were expecting to become professional this summer with one of the ECB’s 40 new contracts, supplemented by their Hundred deals, have been left without the anticipated source of income.While discussions between the PCA and various stakeholders are ongoing, it seems inevitable that counties will have to cut costs over the winter, and with opportunities to prove themselves likely to be scarce, many players could face unemployment at the end of the season. “Normally it’s black and white: you’re judged on performance, runs and wickets are your currency,” Sussex opener Luke Wells said last month. “But if we play no red-ball cricket whatsoever, what happens?”Farbrace said that it was “only human nature” for players and staff to look ahead to the prospect of end-of-year appraisals fearing the worst. “It has crossed my mind, and it’ll have crossed the mind of every director of cricket and coach in the game,” he said. “It’s a big thing. We know that they are player in the last year of their contracts who are not getting the opportunity to earn another one at this stage.”And with every passing week, and every pound that’s being lost from the game because of no cricket [being played], everybody knows more clearly that there are going to be some tough decisions to make. There’s a lot of us within the game that earn our living and pay our bills from cricket, and there could be a lot of changes going forward.”Ultimately, what we want is to come out of it with 18 first-class counties, and as many people as possible to still be in their jobs. Nobody has a crystal ball. There’s been a bit of encouragement in the last few days but we have to understand that 300 people [in the UK] still lost their lives yesterday – that’s the sobering fact.”Farbrace also fears that the game may have missed the opportunity to make the most of a watershed 2019 summer which featured a World Cup win and a dramatic Ashes series, and is desperate for sport to return even if it has to be behind closed doors.”I genuinely worry about the state of the game, and whether we can build on what was a fantastic year for English cricket. We’ve had the women and now the men with the World Cup – there was going to be a lot of money spent this year across the game. It’s important that we get that momentum going again, and we get people really feeling part of the game.”There had never been a better time to cash in and keep interest in the game going on the back of last summer. Even if England have to play behind closed doors, I don’t really mind – I think at the moment quite a few of us would watch a five-a-side game of cricket in a car park, we’re that desperate.”It’s brilliant that Sky have been showing stuff like the 2005 Ashes, but I know the result. You can only watch it for 20 minutes. The whole beauty of sport is not knowing what’s going to happen, the World Cup final, the Stokes innings at Headingley last year, the Buttler innings at Old Trafford in 2018, the narrative of Leachy in the Ashes. The sooner we have something that we don’t know the result of, the better.”We need to think about wellbeing, and sport does give you a lift – it’s the most important of the unimportant things. If it has to be behind closed doors on TV, so be it. If a few hundred people can watch it at the ground, even better. But we have to be sensible, and we’re not going to do anything that will put people in jeopardy: if we can see that it’s safe, then we obviously want to see sport played again.”

Originaly Published on 2020-05-12 14:31:05 by

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