Coronavirus wrap: Domestic cricket back in August but Magic Weekend is cancelled

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Plans for a shortened domestic cricket season will be drawn up after the England and Wales Cricket Board gave the green light for play to resume from August 1, but rugby league’s Magic Weekend has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 18 first-class cricket counties will now hold meetings to discuss which formats will be played, with only the inaugural edition of The Hundred scrapped from the 2020 calendar so far.

County cricket has been on hold since April because of the coronavirus pandemic, but England will return to action with three Tests against the West Indies in July at the ‘bio-secure’ venues of the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford.

Health and safety remains the prime concern for the ECB, which has approved the return to training of first-class county players on or before July 1, while a dedicated working group has been formed to focus specifically on domestic details in the midst of a public health crisis.

“It is a significant step for our game that we are able to approve the start of the men’s domestic season for August 1 and one which will be welcomed by everyone connected with county cricket,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.

“It follows extensive consultation between the 18 first-class counties, the Professionals Cricketers’ Association and ECB and has only been achievable thanks to the significant hard work that continues to occur as we prepare for a domestic season unlike any the game has faced before.

“It must be stressed that the safety of our players, staff and officials has been the first priority through all discussions and Government guidance will continue to shape our planning and preparation.”

Surrey and Lancashire, the only two counties not to furlough staff in recent months, have already scheduled friendlies against Middlesex and Yorkshire respectively for next month. Yorkshire will also play Durham at Headingley behind closed doors between July 27-28.

PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell said any players with any hesitation in coming back are set to be given a chance to opt out, while Harrison added that planning for the return of the women’s domestic game was “ongoing”.

Howevever, Super League’s 2020 Magic Weekend at St James’ Park in Newcastle – which had originally been scheduled for May 23-24 – has been cancelled.

The annual event, in which an entire round of Super League fixtures are staged over a weekend at a single venue, was initially postponed in April due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement on Super League’s official website read: “Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, and further to its postponement in April, Super League regrets to announce that Dacia Magic Weekend 2020 is cancelled.

“The good news is that we have agreed in principle that next year’s Dacia Magic Weekend will take place at St James’ Park, Newcastle on 29 and 30 May 2021.”

The Premier League has returned one positive test for Covid-19 for a second week running following the resumption of play.

Some 2,250 tests were conducted between Monday, June 22, and Sunday, June 29, with one unidentified individual now self-isolating for a period of seven days after returning a positive result.

This was the 11th screening window since testing began in mid-May, and there have now been 19 positive tests from more than 12,000 conducted.

Dylan Frittelli, meanwhile, has become the latest golf player to test positive and will miss the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

In a statement on the PGA Tour’s official website, Frittelli said: “I am experiencing no issues and feel great physically and was surprised and disappointed to learn of the positive test today.

“I’m thankful for the WHOOP strap notification of a minor increase in my respiratory rate overnight.

“However, I’m most thankful for the tour’s assistance, procedures and protocols, which I will continue to follow during my self-isolation, so as to keep everyone safe.”

Nick Watney was the first player to test positive for Covid-19 following his opening round at the RBC Heritage earlier this month before several players pulled out of last week’s Travelers Championship.

Elite athletes in Scotland have been granted permission to resume indoor and contact training under safety protocols.

The step towards normality has been approved by the Scottish Government as part of its route map out of the coronavirus lockdown.

Sportscotland has published guidance for a range of sports following the easing of restrictions on training for performance and professional athletes, coaches and support staff.

The details follow news that Scottish Premiership football clubs were granted approval to resume contact training from Monday.

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