Lancashire have relinquished home advantage in next week’s Bob Willis Trophy fixture against Nottinghamshire so that the biosecure environment at Emirates Old Trafford is not compromised.
The ECB initially agreed to a Lancashire request to host the match, starting a week on Saturday, to allow the club’s players one first-class fixture on their home soil in 2020.
However, that decision was overturned on Thursday as Cricket Australia are yet to confirm they will fulfil a tour of three Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals next month that is estimated to be worth £75million to a governing body desperate to limit Covid-19 losses to around £100m for the summer.
By keeping the Manchester venue sealed off from all but those involved in Pakistan’s contests against England in the interim it drastically reduces the possibility of any coronavirus transmission.
Plans had been made for the players of Lancashire and Nottinghamshire to change in an area of the Point conference building rather than the dressing rooms while other areas of the ground were to be cordoned off and the away team were booked in to a hotel down the road rather than the on-site Hilton.
But the match has been switched to Trent Bridge, meaning the next scheduled fixtures at Old Trafford will be the three Twenty20s between England and Pakistan between August 28-September 1.
It is also down to host England’s three 50-over contests versus Australia on September 11, 13 and 16, with ECB insiders confident no obstacles remain on their side for them to be rubber-stamped.
Lancashire’s players should then get an opportunity to play Twenty20 cricket there within 48 hours with a televised Roses match and one other fixture pencilled in for live coverage before Sky Sports’ broadcast unit moves out later that week.