Northamptonshire and Essex cricket clubs back in action this weekend

  • Watch a report on Essex County Cricket Club from ITV Anglia reporter Donovan Blake above

  • Watch a report on Northamptonshire County Cricket Club from ITV Anglia reporter Donovan Blake above

It's been a challenging time for our region's county cricket clubs. Staff have been furloughed, wages have been deferred and domestic games have yet to feature this summer.

However, there's now a glimmer of hope - Essex and Northamptonshire's clubs are back in action this weekend. 

Reduced four-day and Twenty20 competitions will be played instead of a full campaign.

For Northamptonshire, this would have included Division One County Championship cricket following their promotion last September.

For Essex, it would have meant the opportunity to defend their County Championship title, which they claimed in their historic double-winning previous season.

"A huge thanks to everyone who's got us to here really", said Essex batsman Sir Alastair Cook

"I think, first and foremost, we have to thank all the NHS and the key workers who brought us through the tough times. This looked away off didn't it, in April and May?"

Northamptonshire County Cricket Club train for their first post-lockdown game. Credit: ITV Anglia

Northamptonshire's opening game in the Central Group against Warwickshire has extra significance. Up to 2,500 fans will be able to watch the first two days play at Edgbaston. The stadium is being used to test government guidance for crowds returning to elite sport. 

Meanwhile, Essex's opening game in the South Group, against Kent, at Chelmsford will be played behind closed doors. It's a new world of biosecurity and social distancing for players and ground staff. The pavillion, for instance, has been converted to a temporary weights room. 

Fingers crossed it won't be long before Northampton and Essex's home grounds can welcome crowds again.

Maybe, for one team, after a title-winning campaign...