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Coronavirus: Alastair Cook ready to write off County Championship season

Coronavirus: Alastair Cook ready to write off County Championship season
© Reuters
The former England captain would rather see the first-class competition abandoned altogether than played in a 'meaningless' form.

Former England captain Alastair Cook says he would rather the County Championship was not played at all this season rather than attempting to hold a dramatically condensed campaign.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have made the decision that no professional cricket will be played before May 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That means that the County Championship season, which was due to begin on April 12, faces a lengthy delay and raises questions over how the schedule will look should the season begin later in the year.

Tom Harrison, chief executive officer at the ECB, has said that the "most financially important forms of the game" will be prioritised, with the T20 Blast and the inaugural season of The Hundred the most likely competitions to be retained in a slimmed-down schedule.

That puts the Royal London One-Day Cup and the County Championship in doubt and Cook, who won the Division One title with Essex last season, believes a shortened season would lose value.

"In this year, over the next six months, the bigger picture is the most important," Cook told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Whatever happens, if we do play any sort of cricket which hopefully we will, what I hope is that they don't try and have a six-game County Championship or something like that.

Essex won the Division One title last season
Essex won the Division One title last season (Steven Paston/PA)

"I would rather have one or two full tournaments, because if you do then play that tournament or two tournaments it is so much more rewarding to win it.

"If there is not time for a meaningful County Championship, say (you can only play) three or four games, there is probably not much sense us having it.

"I would rather concentrate on two full tournaments rather than saying we have four tournaments that we need to play, let's get them all in even if we have to shorten them.

"I think you would rather have two tournaments played full length so that the there is meaningful cricket at the end of it."

The 35-year-old Cook, England's record runscorer of all time, is set to be part of the Essex squad again this season as they bid to retain their Division One and T20 Blast trophies.

The T20 Blast is likely to be prioritised
The T20 Blast is likely to be prioritised (Anthony Devlin/PA)

But he admits that the squad are simply having to play a waiting game to see if and when the season might get up and running.

"We just don't know do we and as an Essex squad we are just doing what everyone else is doing," Cook added.

"We are just waiting to see when we are allowed back into the county ground, when we are able to meet up again and hit balls as a group. Up until that time we just have to sit and wait."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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